June/July 2010: The latest news from the AONB

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The latest news from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

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Launch of new dry-stone walling grant scheme

Martin Lane, Tim Vaughan, Jeff WestThe Cotswolds Conservation Board and National Grid have just announced a brand new £300,000 grant scheme available for landowners, farmers and local communities in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The new grant scheme is aimed at restoring dry-stone walls along a 5km corridor centred along the route of the Wormington to Sapperton gas pipeline currently being constructed by National Grid.  The funding has been provided for the Board to invest in conserving and enhancing the Cotswolds landscape during and after the construction period.  Farmers, tenant farmers, landowners and local communities located within the corridor will be able to apply for grants to assist with the cost of restoring dry-stone walls on their land. 

For further details of the grant, along with an application form, visit: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk or call the Cotswolds Conservation Board on 01451 862000.

Wormington to Sapperton gas pipeline project update

Work on the pipeline construction is well underway and the good weather has helped the project team stay on target.  The latest project newsletter is currently available to view online which includes summary details of the following:

  • Construction
  • Road closures
  • Rights of way alterations
  • Support for communities and the environment
  • Environmental work

Click here to download the National Grid June newsletter.

Cotswolds Western Corridor Project

Helping wildlife adapt to climate change
A landscape scale project is being established to protect, manage and link unimproved grasslands and ancient woodlands on the western side of the Cotswolds AONB.

The Cotswolds escarpment is an important area for biodiversity due to its semi-natural character.  However the impact of climate change is already being observed on its species and habitats.  The creation of an 80 mile north-south corridor between Bath and Mickleton, based on the scarp, is being proposed as an effective solution to help wildlife adapt to climate change, through the development of habitat connectivity and appropriate land management.

The project was discussed at a recent meeting of interested parties comprising local authorities and conservation and land management organisations covering Avon and Gloucestershire.  During the meeting there was unanimous approval for the idea of a corridor and a partnership project to deliver it.  Further work is now being undertaken with partners to develop the project further.


Understanding and enjoying

Escape to the Cotswolds - a Centre for the Cotswolds AONB

An exciting new Centre for the Cotswolds AONB will be opening shortly at Northleach.  'Escape to the Cotswolds' will be housed in the North Gallery adjacent to the Board’s offices at the Old Prison and will provide a unique opportunity to tell the story of the Cotswolds AONB, including its history, geology, landscape, flora & fauna, and people.  It will also provide an insight into the activities of the Board and help to inspire visitors and local residents to explore and enjoy different aspects of the Cotswolds and all it has to offer.
The new centre will be open from the week beginning 12 July and will remain open from Wednesdays to Sundays, 10am to 4pm until the end of October.  It will re-open in April 2011.  During the winter period, there will be opportunities for pre-bookable school visits to the Centre.


Access Conference 2010

The Cotswolds AONB Access Conference will be taking place on 6 July at Cotswold District Council, Cirencester.  The conference entitled 'Active Cotswolds' will feature presentations by a range of key speakers, including: Countryfile presenter and owner of Cotswold Farm Park, Adam Henson; Doug Hulyer from Natural England; and Dan James from Exmoor National Park.  In the afternoon there will be 4 workshops looking at Winchcombe's 'Walkers are Welcome'; Rights of Way Improvement Plans; risk and responsibility and cashing in on access. 

If you are interested in attending the Access Conference, contact Mark Connelly on 01451 862006.


Nature events get off to a flying start

The Board’s new themed events this year got off to a good start with many walkers enjoying a variety of walks throughout the AONB, focusing on the wealth of wildflowers on show, and led by our voluntary wardens.

The Bluebell Weekend, 24-25 April, featured a range of woodland walks, while the Wildflower Week, 12 to 20 June, offered unique opportunities to discover some of the best places for wildflowers including Cleeve Common, Stonesfield and Bredon Hill.  The wild flower special on Broadway Hill, a joint walk with Broadway Natural History Society, attracted a number of new walkers, helped by having a professional botanist on the walk which added great value and interest.


The events are helping to support the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity and the next one is the Cotswolds Rivers Week which will be taking place 4 - 12 September.  See the Cotswold Lion newspaper or website for details: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk.


Off-road cycling in the Cotswolds

A series of 6 new off-road cycling routes are being devised and promoted by the Board to encourage more people to explore the Cotswolds by bike.  The new routes will add to the existing cycling information offered by the Board, including the recently updated Kingham based routes which are circular cycle routes, easily accessible from Kingham train station.

The new off-road routes are being serialised in Cotswold Life magazine, starting with the first route centred around the Chedworth area and featured in the June edition, followed by a 15 mile route around the South Warwickshire area, and featured in the July edition.

For further information and to download route information, visit: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/cycling.


Explore the Cotswolds by Public Transport 2010

The new June-December 2010 edition of the Explore the Cotswolds by Public Transport is now available in both hard copy and electronic formats.  The main Explore guide has been updated to include the many attractions in the AONB which are accessible by bus, along with information on walking, Cotswolds villages and a series of taster days out by bus, cycle and on foot.

The Explore series comprises detailed and up-to-date bus and train timetables for North, Central and South Cotswolds plus the Cotswold Way National Trail.

To download the publications direct from the AONB website, click here.


Cotswold Show 2010

It’s showtime again and the Board will be kicking off the season at the Cotswold Show at Cirencester on 3 and 4 July.  With the promotional trailer in place, staff, members and voluntary wardens from the Board will be on hand during the show to offer a range of advice and information about the AONB and the Board to show visitors. 

For further details of the show – www.cotswoldshow.co.uk.

People and communities

Wardens achieve another record-breaking year

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens have broken their own record yet again in their work to conserve, enhance and increase understanding of the Cotswolds AONB.  They recorded a total 43,652 hours, worth over £280,000, during 2009/10 by some 300 active volunteers across the AONB.  

Much of the wardens’ work was spent on conservation and enhancement activities, including looking after some of the Cotswolds most distinctive features.  Among their many achievements included over 130,000m² of unimproved limestone grassland slopes were cleared of invasive plant species, 845m of dry-stone walls were renovated or rebuilt, 1,100m of hedgerows were laid, plus 2,400 hedge plants and 470 trees were planted.

In addition to their conservation efforts the wardens made a significant contribution to the Board’s second purpose of increasing the understanding and enjoyment of the Cotswolds AONB.  Last year, wardens prepared and led 277 walks which attracted 3,546 local people and visitors. They also attended 37 county shows and gave 25 talks to local organisations.

A key highlight of the wardens’ work last year was the development of a pilot educational project with 11 schools across the AONB. The project is aimed at helping pupils to get out of the classroom, experience their local environment and become more aware of the Cotswolds as a special area.


Cotswold Lion returns for 5th year

After its successful launch in 2006 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Cotswolds AONB, Cotswold Lion beer returned for its 5th year in June, continuing to raise funds to help conserve and enhance the AONB.
Brewed by Cotswold brewery Hook Norton, the 4.2% ABV brew which is described as a pale, fruity ale with a citrus lime aroma, made a re-appearance throughout June as part of the Brewers Selection series.  

As part of its commitment to the environment, the brewery donates 5p off the top of every bottle to the charity The Friends of the Cotswolds. The ‘Friends’ aims to secure donations and then allocates grants to conservation projects throughout the AONB.  Since the launch of the beer, over £2000 has been raised by the brewery for the charity.
This June, the beer was also given the thumbs up by pub-goers in Thame when a fun beer tasting event took place at the James Figg Free House pub - the Cotsowld Lion was voted the best out of the other Hook Norton beers.
For further details about the charity and its work, visit: www.friendsofthecotswolds.org.

The Board welcomes Nick and Stuart....and says farewell to Tom

Nick Jones (left) and Stuart Leaver have joined the Board on 1 year work placements.

Nick, who is currently studying Geography and Environmental Management at the University of the West of England, will be working for the Board until June 2011, on his student placement.  He will be taking over from Tom Pocklington who is due to leave at the end of June to complete his degree at Harper Adams.  Nick said: “I am hoping to gain experience in each of the areas the board are involved with and make the most of my time here." Nick’s interests include sport, paintball and meteorology.

Stuart has recently completed a degree in Agriculture & Conservation at Hartpury College and is part way through his MSc Rural Estate Management course at the Royal Agricultural College.  He joins the Board as the new Higher Level Stewardship Officer.  Stuart said: “I am delighted to be working for the Board.  My main role will be to carry out farm environment plans and complete HLS applications for Natural England to increase the amount of land in the AONB under the HLS scheme.”  Stuart is from Churchdown where he enjoys helping out on the family farm.