April/May 2010 Update

Photo: @ShortTitle@
Reporting on the Board's activities

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New rural skills programme 2010

This year's rural skills programme, organised by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, features its largest ever range of traditional skills courses.
Weekend courses in dry-stone walling, hedgelaying, green woodworking and Cotswold slate roofing are being offered from April through to January 2011 in a range of locations across the Cotswolds AONB.
Aimed primarily at beginners, the courses aim to keep traditional skills alive in the Cotswolds by developing the skills needed to maintain the unique, rural features of the AONB such as dry-stone walls and hedgerows.
Green woodworking courses help to raise awareness of the importance of effective woodland management through coppicing and encourage people to look more closely at woodlands to identify the products that can be derived from them. These courses are offered in association with Cotswold Woodland Crafts and teach the basic skills of cleaving, trimming, shaving and turning on a pole-lathe, as well as learning the safe use of many tools such as the billhook, bow saw and cleaving axe.
Further details of the courses are available on the Board's website, or by contacting David Molloy.

Skills in the landscape

The Board has submitted a new bid, Skills in the Landscape, to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding through the Skills for the Future Scheme.  This scheme offered a one-off opportunity to bid for funds to set up training bursaries aimed at supporting a greater diversity of people in undertaking training and work experience in heritage skills.
If successful, Skills in the Landscape will support 16 bursary holders in undertaking year long placements.  There are 2 different types of bursary - Cotswolds countryside skills and Cotswolds building skills. 
Awards will be made in May and, if successful, the Board will have until October to submit a full training plan. 

Gas pipeline update

Main construction work will start over the next few weeks on the new 44 km, 900mm-diameter pipeline linking National Grid's existing installations at Wormington (near Broadway) and Sapperton (near Cirencester). The work involves fencing the working area, removing and storing topsoil, and digging a trench, which will then be backfilled once the pipeline has been laid. The new pipeline is expected to be in operation by the Autumn, although reinstatement of the land may continue after this time.
National Grid has been working with all parties to ensure the majority of footpaths and bridleways that cross the pipeline construction area will remain open throughout the work, with stiles or kissing gates being installed at crossing points to allow access. Where rights of way cannot be kept open, short diversions are provided and clearly signposted. Further information on the pipeline project and rights of way changes is available from the National Grid website.

New Pipeline Community Fund
A new grant for supporting community and environmental projects along the pipeline corridor is available from National Grid. Further details of criteria and eligibility are available from National Grid Community Relations, tel: 0800 731 0561 or email: enquiries@sw-rp.co.uk

Deer management information published

The Cotswolds Conservation Board and The Deer Initiative have published a new information leaflet about managing wild deer in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The new publication, which supports the Board's earlier position statement on the management of deer, provides information about the needs and benefits of the effective management of a sustainable population of wild deer in the Cotswolds. It recognises that deer are part of the countryside and the chance of seeing these beautiful mammals is one of the many pleasures of living and visiting the Cotswolds AONB. However it also highlights the issues and impacts caused by high densities of deer in some areas. Deer numbers in the Cotswolds have increased over the years which has led to increasing habitat damage, crop damage, collisions with road traffic and disease.
The leaflet can be viewed on the Board's website or by clicking here.



Understanding and enjoying

New Cotswold Lion and grants supplement published

The Spring/Summer 2010 edition of the Cotswold Lion newspaper has been published and distributed.
The new issue includes a range of features including articles on biodiversity, climate change and cycling, as well as 4 pages packed with guided walks and events. 
Copies of the new  4-page grants supplement are also available.  This publication contains extensive information on the many grant funds that are available to help farmers, landowners, organisations and local communities throughout the Cotswolds to make environmental improvements. The grants are administered by various organisations, including the Board's Sustainable Development Fund, to enhance the landscape, cultural heritage and biodiversity of the Cotswolds. 
The Cotswold Lion and grants supplement are both available to download from the Board's website. The Lion is also available at tourist information centres, libraries, visitor attractions and many other public places.

New programme of free guided walks in the Cotswolds

The new Cotswold Lion features over 140 free guided walks, visiting some of the most beautiful places in the Cotswolds AONB.
The majority of the walks are researched and led by the Board's Voluntary Wardens, and range from short easy strolls, ideal for families, to longer treks more suitable for experienced walkers. Taking place across all parts of the Cotswolds, the walks visit places such as Oxfordshire's ancient Wychwood Forest, Gloucestershire's wildflower-rich commons, historic sites including Warwickshire's Rollright Stones, and walks that take in some of the most spectacular views across the City of Bath. Some of the walks follow circular routes along parts of the Cotswold Way National Trail.
As an added feature this year, and to help celebrate the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, this year's events programme includes a Bluebell Weekend, Cotswolds Wildflowers Week and Cotswolds Rivers Week, offering people of all ages the chance to find out more about some of the Cotswolds' special flora and fauna. Also participating in these events are the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and National Trust who are organising a number of walks, talks and family events.
For further information on all guided walks, visit the Board's website, or download the Cotswold Lion here.

Quantum Sheep moves into Cotswold Farm Park

Cotswold Farm Park has welcomed popular interactive video game star and time-traveling hero ‘Quantum Sheep’ to their attraction, to help teach children about the history of the Cotswolds AONB.
‘Quantum Sheep and the Wonderful Wolds’, previously commissioned by the Cotswolds Conservation Board as part of its Caring for the Cotswold project, is designed to introduce the concept of landscape change over time to primary school children in a fun and interactive way. The game’s hero, Quantum Sheep, takes youngsters on a journey through four eras - Iron Age, Roman, Medieval and Victorian. Along the way he encounters many natural wonders of the Cotswolds including over 40 species of plants and animals, as well as historic features such as the Rollright Stones.
Primary school teachers visiting the Farm Park have the opportunity to use the game as an aid for pupils studying History and Geography at Key Stage 2. An accompanying lesson planning pack enables school groups to take full advantage of opportunities available.
Andy Cole, Manager at Cotswold Farm Park said: “We are delighted to have the kiosk here at the Cotswold Farm Park we feel it highlights the Farm Parks main aims of conservation and education in a fun and interactive way.”

New Step into the Cotswolds walks produced

Two more circular walks have been produced as part of the Step into the Cotswolds project, with money raised through the Visitor Payback Scheme.
The Ramsden and Finstock walks in West Oxfordshire, which are both around 2 miles in length, were developed by Cotswold Voluntary Wardens to enable easier access around this part of the AONB.  The work included replacing stiles with gates and the production of walks leaflets.  The leaflets are available to download from the Board's website and in hard-copy from tourist information centres in West Oxfordshire.


Tourism survey

Work is progressing towards the Board's application to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism.  As part of this process, the Board is undertaking a survey to find out views and opinions on tourism in the Cotswolds.  These findings will help with the development of a sustainable tourism strategy and action plan for the AONB.
The survey questionnaire is included in each copy of the Spring/Summer Cotswold Lion; it is also available online.  Please help us to increase the response rate by taking a few minutes to complete this survey and/or pass it around your organisation/workplace for others to complete.
All completed responses will go into a prize draw to win one of four family tickets to this year's Moreton Show.
Access the survey via the Board's website, or click here to go direct to the survey page.

People and communities

Over 80 attend Annual Forum

The Board's Annual Forum 2010, held in February at the award-winning and eco-friendly Toddington Village Hall attracted over 80 delegates from across a wide variety of interests including the farming and forestry sectors, local authorities, conservation and environmental organisations.
This year the theme of the event was Climate Change – the future of farming and forestry in the Cotswolds, and highlighted the key findings of the report of the same name published by the Board last year. 
The main speakers at the forum were: Defra’s Robin Mortimer, Director of Climate Change Adaptation, Air Quality, Landscape & Rural Affairs; Jim Smyllie, Executive Director, Regional Delivery at Natural England, Dr Mark Broadmeadow, Climate Change Programme Manager at the Forestry Commission; and Paul Cottington, Environment Advisor for the National Farmers’ Union.
In addition to the speakers were 3 interesting, yet very different case studies that illustrated how farmers and landowners have been using renewable energy to adapt to climate change. These included National Star College and Elkstone Manor near Cheltenham, and Lowbrook Farm in Dorset.
Further details of the forum, along with the presentations and videos (appearing shortly) of all the speakers can be viewed here.

65 attend Farming Forum

The Board's Farming Forum in March attracted 65 farmers and landowners from across the AONB to learn more about climate change and its likely impact on farming and forestry in the Cotswolds over the next 20 years.
The event focused on the key findings of the report by Cumulus Consultants which looked at the future of farming and forestry, and was published by the Board last year.
The event was chaired by local landowner Mark Tufnell with presentations by Paul Silcock of Cumulus Consultants and Dr John Conway of the Royal Agricultural College.

Access Conference 2010

This year's Access Conference, which will be focused around identifying opportunities for developing and improving access and recreational opportunities in the Cotswolds AONB, will take place at Cotswold District Council, Cirencester on Tuesday 6 July.
For further details, contact Mark Connelly.

Applications open for the Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarships 2010

Each year the EUROPARC Federation, in cooperation with the Alfred Toepfer Foundation (D), awards three Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarships, each worth 3000€, to promising young conservationists. The application period for the 2010 scholarships has begun and they are open to Europeans below the age of 35, who work for an environmental institution or are studying something related to the environment in a higher education establishment.
The aim of the scholarships is to enhance international cooperation and to advance the quality, innovation and European dimension of protected area management. The €3000, generously donated by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation, offers the winners the opportunity to undertake a study visit looking at a specific topic to one or more protected areas in European countries other than their own. This will in turn enable them to gather experience which will be both of benefit for the future career of the scholars, and to the EUROPARC Federation and its members.
For further information, visit the Europarc website - www.europarc.org or click here.

Strategic management and planning

Business Plan 2010-13

The Business Plan 2010 - 2013 was adopted by the Board at the March meeting.  The full plan can be downloaded from the Board's website or by clicking here.

Forum for Partners

The Board's next 6-monthly Forum for Partners, which was due to take place on 22 April, has been put back to June.  Details of date, venue and programme will be confirmed shortly.

Planning approval granted for redevelopment of a former airfield in the AONB

Planning consent has been granted following an inquiry held to consider a proposal submitted to Cotswold District Council for substantial redevelopment of the former airfield at Upper Rissington, near Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire. The proposals include the demolition of hangers and other airfield buildings, and the construction of 368 homes, together with retail, employment and community buildings, including a new primary school. The Council had refused the application on a number of grounds including the impact on the Cotswolds AONB. The Conservation Board supported the Council’s stance, and gave evidence at the inquiry regarding the impact on the AONB.
In granting consent, the Inspector considered that the lack of an identifiable five year land supply in Cotswold District, and the provision of a significant proportion of affordable housing in the proposals outweighed the regional and local policy of directing such large scale development to larger urban settlements. With respect to the impact o the AONB, the Inspector considered that the removal of the large hangers, together with a significant reduction in footprint of the new buildings together with tree planting would conserve and enhance the AONB.
The Board is considering the implications of this decision, particularly with respect to other isolated former military sites in the AONB. The Board may draw to the attention of other local planning authorities in the AONB the need to identify the required five year land supply in order to direct development to the most appropriate location.