Aug/Sep 2010: News from the Cotswolds AONB

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The latest news from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

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National Grid dry-stone walling grant fund

Following the launch of a £300,000 dry-stone walling grant fund in June by the Board and National Grid as part of the Wormington to Sapperton Gas Pipeline project, a great deal of interest has been shown by farmers, landowners and communities from along the pipeline corridor. To date, ten applications have been approved by the Board’s Grants Sub-Committee, with others due for consideration at the next Sub-Committee meeting.
The 10 applications are worth over £113,000 of the total fund for the restoration of dry-stone walls in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Applications have been received and approved in locations spanning the length of the National Grid Pipeline, including Hailes, Cowley, Coberley, Hawling, Dowdeswell among others. In total to date, over 1,500 metres of wall will be repaired resulting from the approved applications.
For further details of the grant fund, contact Nick Jones on 01451 862033 or email:

Dry-stone walling competition 2010

Eighteen dry-stone wallers from across the region took part in this year's annual Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Open Dry Stone Walling Competition held at Tetbury on Sunday, 3 October and organised by the Cotswolds Conservation Board along with the Cotswold branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association.
Four classes of competitors - beginner pairs, novice, amateur and professional – battled it out for the prestigious walling trophy and up to £120 cash prize under the expert eye of Master Craftsmen judges, Richard Ingles and Bill Noble, from the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) of Great Britain.

The winners were announced as follows:

  • Professional: 1st:John Byrne from Newmarket, Gloucestershire.
  • Amateur: 1st: Andy Deller from Salford, Oxfordshire; 2nd: Phillip Sexton from Pebworth, Warwickshire; 3rd: Edmund Trainer from Mickleton, Gloucestershire.
  • Novice: 1st: Barry Dunne from Cirencester; 2nd: Tom Gillett
  • Beginner Pairs: 1st: Shirley Williams from Moreton-in-Marsh and Howard Boswell from Shipston-on-Stour; 2nd: Julia Thomas and Rebecca from Oxfordshire; 3rd: Stuart Leaver and Nick Jones from Gloucestershire.

Hedgelaying competition

The annual North Cotswolds Hedgelaying Competition will be taking place on Saturday 20th November at Hitchen Farm, Ford, Gloucestershire, and will involve four classes of competitor, from junior through to veteran.
Watched over by experts from the National Hedgelaying Society, participants will have to cut and lay a section of hedge up to 10 yards in length, depending on which class they belong. The hedge is to be laid in the Midland style and must be 3’ 6” in height.
Judging is made on a points basis, with points awarded for specific aspects of hedgelaying including cut and pleach, stake and heatherings, back of hedge and general appearance.
The draw for sections will take place at 8.40am and laying will commence at 9am. All hedgelaying will finish at 2pm when final judging will take place.
Anyone interested in taking part should contact David Molloy on 01451 862000 or email

HLS update

Applications for Higher Level Stewardship have continued to roll in to the board with around 1,500 Ha (3960 Acres) currently under the process of entering HLS since June of this year, and around 1,200Ha of this entering into the Cotswolds Farmland Birds Project. This will provide £160,000 worth of funding in the first year for conservation practices on both large and small farms as well as common land across the AONB. These contracts will continue to fund conservation in these areas for up to the next 10 years.
The Board is very keen to encourage applications from the Oxfordshire area of the Cotswolds AONB. Therefore any potential farms or landowners in this area which may be interested in entering into HLS, should contact Stuart Leaver on 01451 862038 or email: for further details.

Understanding and enjoying

"Escape to the Cotswolds" opens

The brand new discovery centre for the Cotswolds AONB was officially opened on 29 July with a cake cutting and launch event for over 40 invited guests.
Housed in the Old Prison, Northleach, the aptly named Escape to the Cotswolds has been developed to help tell the fascinating story of the Cotswolds AONB through a series of stunningly designed new interpretive displays, providing a focus for the Board and for discovering more about our unique landscape.
Speaking at the launch, Director Martin Lane, said: "I am delighted that this excellent new centre for the Cotswolds is now open. It has been the aspiration of the Board for some time to develop a facility that enables us to tell the story of the AONB to the millions of visitors to the area, as well as the many people who live here. Now, thanks to a tremendous team effort, we have something that I am sure will become a popular attraction that will help more people gain a greater understanding and appreciation of this beautiful landscape.”

The centre will be open from 10am to 4pm, Wednesdays to Sundays, until the end of October. It will re-open on 1 April 2011. 

Picture shows Cotswolds Conservation Board Chairman, Jeff West (left) with Mayor of Northleach, Mike Pezet.

Annual Review 2009/10

The Cotswolds AONB Annual Review 2009/10 is available to view online. The Annual Review summarises the highlights and key achievements of the Board's work in its core activities of conserving and enhancing, and increasing the understanding and enjoying of the Cotswolds AONB.  

To view the Annual Review online, click here.

People and communities

Cotswolds Conservation Board shortlisted for national award

The Cotswolds Conservation Board has been shortlisted for one of three awards in this year's Landscape Institute Awards 2010, following the Board's submission entitled: Strategic Planning for the Cotswolds Landscape.
The shortlisted entry centres on the suite of policy documents, including the Management Plan and the Landscape Strategies and Guidelines that have been used by the Board and a wide range of partner organisations, including local authorities, to help guide new development programmes relating to the conservation and enhancement of the AONB.
The LI Awards are presented to encourage and recognise outstanding examples of work by the landscape profession.
The Awards Ceremony will be hosted by the poet, journalist and broadcaster Ian McMillan. Ian is the poet-in-residence for the Academy of Urbanism as well as the host of 'The Verb' on BBC Radio Three.
The ceremony will be held on Thursday 18 November 2010 in London.

Cotswolds represented at major conferences and visits

Representatives from the Cotswolds Conservation Board recently attended three national and international conferences to ensure the Cotswolds AONB is represented at these important events and to keep abreast of key issues affecting the management and development of protected areas.
The thee conferences attended were:

  • National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Landscape and Nature for All, 12-15 July, Kent
  • The Association of National Park Authorities: Living Lochs, 20-23 September, Loch Lomond
  • Europarc: Living together. Biodiversity and Human Activities: A Challenge for the Future of Protected Areas, 29 September - 3 October, Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park, Italy

In addition to the above conferences, two voluntary wardens also attended the Volunteer Exchange visit to Pollino National Park, Italy in July, as part of the Grundtvig project.

Sustainable Development Fund update

The Cotswolds Conservation Board's Sustainable Development Fund has awarded grants totaling £32,000 to eight projects based in the Cotswolds AONB to date this year. Two of the most recent projects are highlighted below:

Tetbury Food and Drink Festival
One of the most exciting projects supported by this year’s fund was the £2,500 awarded to the Tetbury Food and Drink Festival which took place between 22nd and 26th September. The festival received a grant to go towards the purchase of extra equipment and publicity materials to help promote the 4th year of this annual celebration of local produce and cuisine.

Shipton-under-Wychwood Wild Gardens and Woods
In June 2010 the Shipton-under-Wychwood Wild Gardens and Woods project was awarded £10,000 from the SDF to go towards the purchase and improvement of a 5 hectare site in the village. Work on the site is due for completion in March 2011 when it will be opened to the public for amenity purposes and for the benefit of local wildlife.

Cotswold Voluntary Wardens Annual Conference 2010

The voluntary wardens’ Annual Conference took place on Friday 8th October at Chedworth Village Hall with over 80 people attending.
The theme of this year’s conference was mammals of the Cotswolds and included talks on deer by Norman Healy of the Deer Initiative and water voles by John Field from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.  There was also an interesting account of the Volunteer Exchange visit to Pollino National Park, Italy in July by wardens Dave Scott and Mike Brinkworth, which was part of the Grundtvig project.  The visit offered them the opportunity to experience the range of voluntary work undertaken in a European National Park.
Site visits to Greystones Farm Nature Reserve, Stowell Park Estate and around Chedworth took place in the afternoon.

Strategic management and planning

M5 Motorway Service Area, Gloucester

Planning permission has been granted for a motorway service area on the M5 between Robinswood Hill, Gloucester, and Painswick Hill. The site abuts the boundary of the Cotswolds AONB. The Conservation Board and Natural England were among those who objected to the proposal on the grounds of adverse visual impact on the scarp slope of the Cotswolds at this location. Concerns were expressed regarding the impact of parking areas and lighting. However, Stroud District Council considered that the social and economic benefits of the scheme outweighed any harm to the AONB.

Auditors give Board a clean bill of health

The District Auditor has given an unqualified opinion on the Board's Statement of Accounts 2009/10 and its arrangements for achieving value for money. The Board's accounts are prepared and audited annually. The District Auditor said that, in her opinion, the Board's accounting statements give a true and fair view of the financial position, and the Board has proper arrangements in place for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of its resources for the year ended 31 March 2010. The full Statement of Accounts and the Audit Report are available on the Board's website.