Update Special 2011

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Summarising the work and achievements of the Cotswolds Conservation Board during 2010/11

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Summarising the achievements of the Cotswolds Conservation Board 2010/11

This e-bulletin provides a summary of the Cotswolds Conservation Board's Annual Review 2010/11.  A copy of the full Annual Review can be downloaded direct from the Cotswolds AONB website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk, or by clicking here.

Working in partnership

The Wormington to Sapperton Gas Pipeline Project

2010 saw the major construction by National Grid of a 44km gas pipeline through the Cotswolds AONB landscape. The Board negotiated a ground breaking, mitigation package with National Grid worth around £1million, resulting in £400,000 contribution towards dry-stone walling projects, nearly £100,000 towards a series of climate change projects by the Board plus £100,000 towards community projects.



Cotswolds Ancient Woodland Project

The Cotswolds Ancient Woodland Project, which was launched in 2008, has helped to generate 102 English Woodland Grant Scheme applications, covering over 1,270ha worth over £1.4million.  This includes 92ha of Planted Ancient Woodland Site restoration.

Cotswold Farmland Bird Project

The Cotswold Farmland Bird Project, launched in April 2008, has delivered 54 HLS agreements with 20 further applications in progress, covering 31,000ha, worth £3.5million over 10 years.  The project is hoped to continue through to 2012.

Conservation work of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens

2010/11 was another successful year for our wardens who achieved a record total of 43,772 hours work by 280 active volunteers.  This equates to around £300,000 worth of staff time. 
Almost 70% of wardens' hours were spent on conserving and enhancing the countryside, and improving access.  Work includes constructing bridges, installing gates and finger posts, planting trees, building dry-stone walls, and much more.

Cotswolds Ecological Network

A proposal for the Cotswolds Ecological Network project was initiated for landscape scale habitat restoration and recreation.  This proposal aims to develop habitat connectivity on a landscape scale by the creation of large habitat blocks to help our wildlife adapt to climate change.
Following the publication of the Lawton Review, the thinking behind the wildlife corridor along the scarp was extended to the whole of the AONB resulting in a draft ecological network map.

Keeping rural skills alive in the Cotswolds

Interest and awareness in rural skills is growing as more people are becoming keener to learn about some these ancient skills and techniques.

In 2010/11, the Board organised:

  • eight dry-stone walling courses which attracted 72 people.
  • four weekend courses in hedgelaying which attracted 38 people
  • two woodland coppicing courses attracting 17 people
  • the annual Cotswolds AONB Open Dry-stone Walling Competition which attracted 18 participants
  • the annual Cotswolds Hedgelaying Competition, supported by the National Hedgelaying Society, which attracted 28 participants.

A brand new website was launched in early 2011, providing a one stop shop for people looking for a rural skills course - www.cotswoldsruralskills.org.uk

Understanding and enjoying

Escape to the Cotswolds discovery centre

Escape to the Cotswolds, a brand new discovery centre for the Cotswolds AONB, was officially opened in July 2010 at a special launch event marking a significant milestone in the Board's interpretation activities.
Through a series of well designed information displays, the Centre tells the fascinating story of the Cotswolds history, geology, landscape and people.  It received more than 2,000 visitors through its doors during its first season, along with many positive comments from customers.

Publications & events

  • Two editions of the Cotswold Lion newspaper were produced and distributed to 110,000 people via visitor information centres, libraries and voluntary wardens.
  • Over 37,000 copies of the Explore the Cotswolds by Public Transport guide and timetables were produced.
  • Six Update e-newsletters were distributed to a growing database of over 500 people.
  • A double-page feature on the AONB was included in the Cotswolds Visitor Guide 2011 which has a print-run of 80,000 and is distributed to potential visitors from the UK and overseas.
  • Staff and wardens participated in four country shows during 2010/11 using the AONB trailer.  Wardens attended a further 39 shows and gave 26 talks to a variety of special interest groups.

Media & online publicity

  • Extensive positive coverage was achieved in national, regional and local press, broadcast and online articles.  Twenty three press releases were issued and over £450,000 worth of press coverage achieved.
  • The AONB website received over 86,000 visits during 2010/11, representing and increase of 9%.  A new AONB page was developed on the social networking site facebook.com and the AONB's twitter page continues to attract a growing number of followers.
  • The Cotswold Way website has gone from strength to strength with visitor figures increasing 50% and over 91,000 individual users during 2010.

Cotswold Way National Trail

  • The Cotswold Way National Trail Officer was invited to attend the first World Trails Conference held in South Korea, on behalf of the 15 National Trails in England and Wales.  James Blockley had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on the Cotswold Way to the 200+ delegates from across the world.
  • Last year a study was commissioned aimed at understanding more about the benefits that the trail brings to local businesses.
  • The framework for the management and development of the Cotswold Way from 2011 to 2014 was completed last year following extensive consultation.  The final publication will be used to develop regular action plans as part of the Board's review procedure.
  • The Trail Office continued to work closely with the Cotswold Way wardens to ensure the highest possible quality path and user experience.

Educational programme

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens educational programme continued to make much progress during 2010/11.  Wardens spent 536 hours working with 13 schools and 387 children across the AONB in a variety of different activities designed to help get children out of the classroom and exploring and learning about the countryside.

Supporting and promoting sustainable tourism

  • The Board continued to lead the work of the Cotswolds AONB Sustainable Tourism Partnership, with which it developed and published its five year Sustainable Tourism Strategy & Action Plan for the AONB.  The strategy formed the basis of an application to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.
  • The South East Protected Landscapes group secured nearly £1million of RDPE funding to support a major project to develop sustainable rural tourism in protected areas in the South East, including the Cotswolds AONB.

Exploring the Cotswolds on foot and by bike

  • The popular guided walks programme, run by Voluntary Wardens featured 295 walks throughout the year, attracting 4,310 adults and 44 children, representing an increase of 20% more people than the previous year.
  • A series of themed nature events was organised as part of the guided walks programme to help support and celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity.
  • Six new off-road cycling routes were researched, written up and made available to download from the AONB website.

Strategic management and planning

Landscape planning award

In 2010/11, the Board received the 'Highly Commended' award in the Strategic Landscape Planning category at the 2010 Landscape Institute Awards.  The award was presented in recognition of the Board's approach to the strategic management of the Cotswolds AONB.

Management Plan review

The Board is required to review the AONB Management Plan at five yearly intervals. The process of reviewing the Management Plan 2008-13 began with a workshop session in the autumn of 2010, followed by further discussion of issues and options in early spring.  Consultation with partners will commence in summer 2011.

Planning responses & guidance

In 2010-11 the Board was formally consulted on 58 planning and transport applications and policies.  Some of the Board's responses included the following:

  • Two national consultations: Natural England's Guidance for assessing landscapes for designation as a National Park or AONB; the Lawton Report
  • the draft Rights of Way Improvement Plans for Gloucestershire and Warwickshire
  • National Planning Framework and revised National Energy Statements
  • Trees and Woodland in Worcestershire, Biodiversity and Landscape Guidelines for their Planting and Management
  • Core Strategy document consultations issued by a number of local authorities in the AONB
  • significant planning applications in and near the AONB for renewable energy, housing development and a motorway service area
  • Local Transport Plan 3 consultations

Two position statements were published:

  • Development outside the Cotswolds AONB (the 'setting')
  • A revised Telecommunications Position Statement incorporating an addendum on broadband.

A review of the Board's planning and transport activity was undertaken with local authorities which showed a generally acceptable level of effectiveness.


People and communities

Ministerial visit

The Board welcomed Richard Benyon MP in February 2011 as he made a fact-finding visit to the Cotswolds AONB to see a range of conservation projects in action.
Mr Benyon was able to see some key areas of the Board's work in conserving and enhancing the AONB, plus meet staff, members and voluntary wardens as part of the tour.

Sustainable Development Fund

In 2010-11, the Board's Grants Sub-Committee awarded nearly £50,000 of funding to 15 very worthwhile local community projects, worth over £214,000 in total.  The projects were wide-ranging and included a woodland coppicing scheme, local food festival, playground allotment and energy-saving equipment.

Friends of the Cotswolds

During 2010-11, the Friends of the Cotswolds helped fund a range of environmental projects in the Cotswolds including the purchase of nesting boxes for kingfishers and tawny owls, work to support the Naunton Dovecote and the renovation of the Clapper bridge at Signet.

Conferences and events

  • The Board hosted its Annual Forum at the Corn Exchange, Witney.  Over 60 people attended the forum entitled 'Localism and the opportunities and implications for the Cotswolds AONB'.
  • Over 40 delegates attended the Board's second Cotswolds Access Conference in July 2010 at Cotswold District Council, Cirencester.
  • The Board's 10th annual Cotswold Farming Forum took place in March 2011 at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester and attracted over 50 farmers and landowners.
  • The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens Annual Conference was held at Chedworth Village Hall in October and was attended by over 90 wardens
  • The Board represented the Cotswolds AONB at key regional, national and international events including the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Conference and the Europarc Federation Conference.