June/July 2011: Latest news from the Cotswolds AONB

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The latest news from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

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Walling grant awards attract widespread interest


The Dry-stone Walling Grant scheme offered by the Board, with funding from National Grid, has been attracting widespread interest since the scheme was extended to the whole of the Cotswolds AONB in June.

Twenty eight applications have been received, of which 21 are from the wider AONB area and the remaining 7are from within the pipeline corridor.

 To date, since the launch of the scheme last year, 50 applications have been received, out of which 45 have been awarded a total of more than £296,000 to repair or rebuild 4,680m of wall.

 Photo: Part of Leckhampton Hill which has been restored thanks to funding from the dry-stone walling grant scheme.


New charcoal course

Our new website for rural skills, www.cotswoldsruralskills.org.uk, now features a brand new course in the traditional skill of charcoal making.

The Heartwood Project, who were recently awarded a Sustainable Development Fund grant by the Board to help pay for a charcoal kiln, is offering a weekend’s charcoal making course in an idyllic area of woodland managed by the project in Limpley Stoke, near Bath.

On this course participants will learn about the process of charcoal making and the skills and techniques that are involved in this ancient craft.  Overnight accommodation is available for trainees in the form of an 8-man canvas tent. Hot meals will also be provided, including a slow cooked, charcoal BBQ on the Saturday evening!

Click here for further information:

Understanding and enjoying

International award for tourism in the Cotswolds

It has just been announced that the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been successful with its application for the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas. The Cotswolds becomes the fourth AONB in England to receive the prestigious award and joins an international group of 77 members which include some of Europe's most beautiful landscapes.

The international Charter is awarded to protected areas that can demonstrate they are supporting sustainable tourism that contributes to local economic development while conserving the area’s natural and cultural resources.  The award will cover the period 2011 to 2016, during which time the Cotswolds Conservation Board will continue to work closely with the AONB’s Sustainable Tourism Partnership to help deliver the 5 year plan for the AONB.
For further details, contact Nicola Greaves on 01451 862003.

New website for enjoying the Cotswolds

A brand new website aimed at helping more people explore and enjoy the Cotswolds has been unveiled.

The new site, www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk, is designed to provide a range of information on outdoor activities and places to visit. The site contains easy-to-access details of walking routes, guided walks, cycle rides, horse riding, events and festivals, as well as information on local attractions including historic sites, towns and villages, nature reserves, museums, gardens and much more. The website also provides a simple and free facility for event organisers and walks leaders to easily submit their own walk or event for inclusion on the site.

The new site follows on from the Board's recent launch of a new website for rural skills courses –
www.cotswoldsruralskills.org.uk - which has already proven to be very popular, generating over £5,000 worth of course bookings in just three months.

The website also complements the new AONB discovery centre at Northleach – Escape to the Cotswolds – which provides a range of information for visitors including walking, cycling and other recreational opportunities.

Oxford primary school children enjoy day out in the Cotswolds

Thirty pupils from Rose Hill Primary School, Oxford, enjoyed a fun day of learning, out of the classroom and in the Cotswolds countryside, as part of an educational initiative in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Organised by Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, the pupils, aged between nine and ten years of age, visited the Old Farm in Dorn, Moreton in Marsh, to learn about and experience first-hand, life on a traditional farm and find out where much of their food comes from.  As part of their visit, the children saw Charollais cattle, chickens and Gloucester Old Spot pigs; they visited a field of wheat crop, identified trees and wildflowers, plus watched a demonstration of sheep shearing. 

Following the farm tour, the children were taken to see the Rollright Stones where they learned about the folkore and history surrounding the stones and spent some time sketching.

For many children from Rose Hill, this visit was a rare opportunity to experience the countryside and gave them an appreciation of farming, food production as well as protecting wildlife in its natural habitat.

During 2010/11, the Voluntary Wardens’ educational programme, which aims to encourage understanding and awareness of the countryside among school children, worked with 387 children at 13 schools across the Cotswolds on a variety of outdoor learning activities.

Explore the Cotswolds guide for 2011 now available

The latest set of the popular Explore the Cotswolds by Public Transport guide and timetables has been produced, covering the period June to December 2011.

The main guide provides an overview to how to get around the AONB by bus and by rail, as well as helpful cycling and walking itinerary suggestions and a list of attractions that are accessible by public transport. The guide is complemented by a detailed set of 3 timetables covering the North, South and Central AONB areas which also incorporate information on getting to the Cotswold Way National Trail.

The full set can be downloaded or ordered from the AONB website or picked up at local visitor information centres.


New edition of the Cotswolds on Horseback

The third edition of The Cotswolds on Horseback has been published by the British Horse Society (BHS).

The BHS’s new publication comprises eight routes, with maps and route directions. There are currently another fourteen additional routes available online for free, and more due to be added. The routes enable riders to enjoy the rolling hills, rich history and stunning countryside of the Cotswolds using bridleways, restricted byways, and quiet lanes, and cross arable and livestock farmland, woods, commons and country estates.

The routes were devised by local volunteers, including the Mid Cotswolds Tracks and Trails Group.
The Cotswolds on Horseback is available from the

BHS bookshop, priced £6.95, or click here to download individual routes.


People and communities

Congratulations to Judith

Congratulations to Board member, Judith Webb, who has received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours for services to conservation in England and Wales.

Judith, a leading environmentalist and Secretary of State Appointee to the Board since its establishment in 2005, is a Commissioner for Forestry Commission Wales and has run her own consultancy business specialising in woodland management, land-use policy and conservation schemes for the past 20 years.

As a former member of the Board’s Conserving and Managing Sub-committee, Judith’s extensive background and experience of woodland and forestry has provided an invaluable contribution to the development of many of the Board’s policies and projects, including the Cotswolds Ancient Woodland Project and the position statement on managing deer. She continues to advise the sub-committeee on forestry, woodland and other land management issues, as well as champion the work of the Board to the Forestry Commission and other organisations.
Photo: Forestry Commission

The Board welcomes two new members

Two new members have recently joined the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

Mark O’Sullivan, who lives in Bath, has been appointed to the Board by the Secretary of State.  Mark brings with him a strong background and specialist knowledge of environmental issues, education and management.

Cllr Rowland Blackwell, from Stroud, has been appointed as a new local authority member to the Board, representing Stroud District Council.  Roland, who runs a family farm in Nailsworth, has a background in planning and a keen interest in countryside issues.


National Association for AONBs Conference

The National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) recently held its 13th Annual Conference in the South West of England, hosted by the Cornwall, Isles of Scilly and Tamar Valley AONB Partnerships.

With 2011 being the Year of Volunteers, this year’s conference examined how the collaborative working of AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards can provide local solutions to national issues.

Attended by Board members Jeff West and Richard Lloyd, Director Martin Lane and Head Warden David Colbourne, the conference considered the many issues facing AONBs, with presentations from Natural England, CPRE, Cornwall County Council, Visit Cornwall, CoaST and the Countryside Council for Wales.

Full details of the conference, including presentations and videos can be found at: www.landscapesforlifeconference.org.uk

Farewell to Susie Moore and Tim Hill

We say farewell and thank you to Board members Susie Moore and Tim Hill who leave after 6 years service, having been with the Board since it was established in 2005. At various times they both served on the Executive Committee and on various Sub-Committees, greatly adding to debates by providing the parish perspective.

Parish council elections for board appointees


Four candidates have been nominated for the Parish Group 3 (North Cotswolds) vacancy and three candidates have been nominated for the Parish Group 4 (Central Cotswolds) vacancy.  Ballot papers have been issued to all parishes in those two groups and completed papers are to be returned by no later than 5pm on Thursday 4th August 2011.  The results will be announced as soon as possible after that date.


Sustainable Development Fund

The Board’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) is well on target to being fully allocated for projects across the Cotswolds AONB for 2011/12.

This year, interest in the SDF has been particularly high with a total of seven applications already awarded SDF grants of nearly £34,000 by the Board’s Grants Sub-committee. The successful projects, which include development of an environmental educational site at Dursley, a solar panel installation at Marshfield Community Centre, installation of air source heat pumps at Chedworth Roman Villa, and habitat restoration at Charlton Kings, are worth more than £135,000 in total value.

The SDF scheme is aimed at supporting projects that bring environmental, social and economic benefits to communities throughout the AONB. Because of the popularity of the scheme, and the high demand by very worthy projects across the Cotswolds, plans are underway to try and secure external corporate sponsorship to boost the value of available funds.

For further information, contact David Molloy on 01451 862002.

Photo: Chedworth Roman Villa, National Trust

Welcome Helena Machova

The Board welcomes its first international student intern, Helena Machova from the Czech Republic, Helena is studying Ecology and Environmental protection at the Palacky University in Olomouc and will be working for the Board until Christmas 2011.

During this time she is looking forward to gaining a wide range of practical experience with nature conservation and learning more about protected areas in the UK. Her interests include fencing, archery, and kung-fu.

Helena’s placement follows on from student Nick Jones who left in June.


Strategic management and planning

Extra support secured from National Grid

The Board has secured additional support of over £96,000 from National Grid as part of the mitigation package in connection with the construction of the gas pipeline between Wormington and Sapperton.

This additional funding will go towards two key projects aimed at climate change adaptation and mitigation: the development of tailored advice and information for farmers; and the Cotswolds Limestone Grasslands Habitat Restoration project. The latter aims to develop sustainable partnerships for habitat restoration and involves local community engagement and the provision of training in new environmental skills.