The Cotswolds AONB celebrates 50th Anniversary at the Palace of Westminster

The Cotswolds Conservation Board was delighted to hold a reception at the Palace of Westminster, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Hosted by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, who sent apologies from Lord Plumb, as he was unable to be present due to illness.  The reception featured a range of speakers including Rory Stewart, Minister for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Designated in 1966, the Cotswolds AONB extends from Bath to Stratford upon Avon and from Gloucester to Witney, covering the best part of 800 sq miles or 2040 sq kilometres. It is the largest of the AONBs and currently the second largest protected landscape in England, after the Lake District.

Speaking at the reception, Rory Stewart MP spoke about the purpose and importance of designating the Cotswolds as an AONB in the swinging 1960 to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area. He went on to say: “The Cotswolds AONB is a memorable landscape and one that will long continue”.

Attending the reception were; Alex Chalk MP for Cheltenham, Chris Skidmore MP for Kingswood, Harriett Baidwin MP for West Worcestershire, Ben Howlett MP for Bath, and Nigel Huddleston MP for Mid Worcestershire. Representatives from the House of Lords also attended along with local authority leaders and directors of local businesses. 

 Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP for The Cotswolds, who hosted the Westminster reception said: “I was delighted to host the event to help mark the 50th Anniversary of the Cotswolds being designated an AONB. It is a landscape in which we all have a stake; a local and national jewel.

I encourage all to help us ensure that it is a landscape conserved and enhanced for the next 50+ years and I invite everyone to help mark and celebrate the 50th Anniversary within your own organisation in the months ahead”.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board’s Chairman Liz Eyre went somewhat further and invited those attending to pledge their support for nine opportunities going forward:

  • Recognise the quality of the AONB landscape and secure the Cotswolds as a dark sky reserve.
  • Make the Cotswolds the best landscape for the visitor to explore by public transport.
  • Make the Cotswolds the walking and exploring capital of England.
  • Build the Visitor Giving scheme and grow the level of support and range of activity that it can invest in.
  • Make the very best use of the Cotswolds as a Natural Health Service.
  • Develop the rural skills programme and support young people to advance their skills by offering a range of traineeships and apprenticeships, to help keep the Cotswolds special.
  • Develop the Cotswolds Choice brand to support local producers and businesses that in turn support high quality landscape management.
  • Help farmers and landowners retain and create wildflower rich grasslands and at the same time use their flood management potential.
  • Develop our understanding of the full range of benefits that the Cotswolds AONB provides to society and business.

Liz Eyre said: “I ask for your support in advancing these programmes and ideas as we embark on the next 50 years. I similarly invite you to join the Conservation Board in helping to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this wonderful landscape in the months ahead.”

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP invited all attending the reception to join Liz Eyre on the 50th Anniversary fundraising walk, walking the Cotswold Way in 10 stages over the course of the year.

At the reception Hook Norton Brewery launched their Cotswold Lion beer, brewed to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. The Cotswolds Distillery presented tastings of their gin, which has a 50th Anniversary collar/box design. Both companies are making a financial donation to the Cotswolds AONB.

Celebration events continue to take place across the Cotswolds throughout the year including: pop-up roadshows, creative workshops, an art exhibition and the Cotswolds Living Landscape Festival at National Trust’s Lodge Park on Sunday 18 September.

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