Dec/Jan 2011: News from the Cotswolds AONB

Photo: @ShortTitle@
The latest news from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

Follow CotswoldsAONB on Twitter View CotswoldsAONB on Facebook View CotswoldsAONB on YouTube


Hedgelaying Competition 2010

Hedgelayers from all over the country gathered at Hitchen Farm near Ford in the north Cotswolds on 20 November to take part in the annual Cotswolds Hedgelaying competition.  The event, which was organised by the Board as part of its rural skills programme, attracted 28 competitors and more than 100 observers.
The results of the competition were:

Open Class: 1st Steve Budding, Leicestershire; 2nd David Smith, Leicestershire; 3rd Rob Thompson, Nuneaton.

Intermediate Class: 1st Derrick Hale, Derbyshire; 2nd Tony Wilsdon, Oxfordshire; 3rd Andrew Williams, Gloucestershire.

Junior & Beginners class: 1st Emily Ledder, West Yorks; 2nd Gordon Morris, Warwickshire; 3rd Andy Deller, Chipping Norton.

Veteran class: 1st Clive Matthew, Leicestershire; 2nd Tony Heard, Warwickshire; 3rd Peter Flint, Leicestershire.

David Molloy, Rural Skills Officer said: “This is always a popular competition with participants and observers from across the country who take a keen and active interest in this traditional countryside activity. This year was no exception and we are extremely grateful for everyone who took part and helped to make the day a great success.”

Hedgelaying courses

Two weekend courses in Hedgelaying for beginners are taking place on 22 & 23 January and 5 & 6 February at the Fosse Cross, Northleach.
On the course, participants will learn hedgelaying in the Midland style including how to clear/prepare the hedge, cut and lay the pleachers, fix the stakes and bindings, correctly use and maintain hedge laying tools.
An additional hedgelaying course has been arranged to take place at Castle Combe on 12/13 February 2011. This course will be taught in the Somerset style.
All hedgelaying courses cost £80 for the full weekend. For further details, contact David Molloy on 01451 862002 or email:

New woodland coppicing courses

The first new woodland coppicing course was organised by the Board on 14 November at the National Trust's Littleworth Woods, Snowshill, near Broadway.  The course attracted 5 participants from around the region who enjoyed both the wonderful woodland venue and the opportunity to learn new skills.  A second course is being organised at Littleworth Woods on 16 January.  It is hoped that these will become a regular feature of the Board's rural skills programme in tbe future.

Woodland coppicing helps to encourage the re-growth of trees and shrubs and prolongs their lives. This ancient practice, dating back to Neolithic times, was originally used to source timber for the production of items such as gate and wattle hurdles, wooden tools, furniture and charcoal.

On the course, participants will learn:

  • The skills of coppicing and tree felling
  • What tools are needed and how to use them
  • How coppicing can benefit wildlife
  • A brief history of woodland coppicing
  • How to identify and extract a range of coppice products and the potential uses for harvested coppice.

All coppicing courses are £35. For further details, contact David Molloy on 01451 862002 or email:
Rural skills gift vouchers now available – ideal for Christmas! Contact David Molloy for details.

Thinking about Lawton

The ‘Lawton Review’ published in September sets out to answer the question “Do England’s wildlife sites comprise a coherent and resilient ecological network and if not what needs to be done?” Unsurprisingly the answer was no and that in terms of our wildlife sites we need more, bigger, better and joined. The report can be found at;

The report identified Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as having considerable potential for this work. Here in the Cotswolds the emerging project of an 80 mile long wildlife corridor based around the Cotswolds scarp is progressing well with a strong partnership forming around it. However, the publication of the Lawton Review has provided a greater impetus towards the development of an ‘ecological network’ across the whole of the Cotswolds AONB, with the production of an initial opportunity map. This map is based on a combination of Strategic Nature Areas, landscape character and habitat and species data. It is already leading to potentially very significant resources being brought to the Cotswolds for landscape scale habitat restoration and recreation. The Environment Bank (lobbying for a development credit scheme funding habitat work) is very keen to work with the Board and a project aimed at recreating limestone grasslands across the Cotswolds is being incorporated into a national bid by Plantlife.
CLICK HERE to view the ecological network map

For further details, contact Simon Smith, Project Development Officer on 01451 862031 or

Understanding and enjoying

European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas

It has long been an aspiration of the Board to achieve the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism, awarded by Europarc Federation to protected landscapes which can prove they are delivering tourism in a sustainable way. With the development of a 5 year sustainable tourism strategy and action plan for the Cotswolds AONB - a key component of the Charter award - the application for the Charter is almost ready for submission later this month.
The strategy has been developed in full consultation with tourism authorities and other partners and adheres to the key principles of the Charter; it outlines the vision for sustainable tourism in the AONB in the next 5 years, along with a set of 7 objectives and a comprehensive action plan.
The application process will include a 2-day visit from a Europarc verifier in spring 2011 to meet key stakeholders and view a number of projects and activities on the ground. During this visit, the verifier will need to be assured of the area’s commitment to sustainable tourism by all partners in order to be eligible for the award which, if successful, will be presented at the Europarc Conference in September.
For further details, contact Nicola Greaves on 01451 862003 or

Green light for South East sustainable tourism project

In November, it was announced that the bid for RDPE funding from SEEDA for Phase 2 of the Sustainable Tourism in our Finest Landscapes Project has been approved by DEFRA. This is a joint project by the South East Protected Landscapes, and includes the Cotswolds AONB.
Across the nine participating National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in South East England just under £1 million is available to spend over the next three years to deliver tourism ‘products’ that will celebrate the region's Finest Landscapes. In the Cotswolds, the proposed products are based around cycling breaks, the development of conservation holidays and ‘green tourism’ weekends.
The money will go towards helping the protected areas work with business and other partners to develop more short breaks, market local businesses and establish a sophisticated on-line booking and marketing website with project partner, Responsible Travel. It is hoped to launch the initiative early next summer.
For further details, contact Nicola Greaves on 01451 862003 or

'Escape to the Cotswolds' enjoys its first season

The new discovery centre for the Cotswolds AONB, Escape to the Cotswolds, enjoyed a successful first season between its initial opening on 14 July until 31 October when it closed for the winter period. During that time, the centre attracted over 2,000 visitors and received some very positive and supportive comments.
Plans are in place to encourage more people to visit the centre through increased promotion as well as organising a range of events and walks next year.
For further details, go to



A Cotswold Scene

In April 2010, an exciting new photography competition, supported by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, was launched to celebrate the beauty of the Cotswolds and to give members of the public the chance to have their images showcased in a six week high profile exhibition at O3 gallery, Oxford Castle. The winning and runner-up entries of the competition ‘A Cotswold Scene’ exhibition, are now on show to the public until 9 January, and there are some fantastic photographs on display.
The competition was the idea of local landscape photographer Sarah Howard, and budding photographers were encouraged to show off their photography skills in one of three categories: ‘My Cotswolds’, ‘A Cotswold View’, and ‘Cotswold Life’. Sarah was especially keen to encourage creative expression in younger people and created a category designed specifically for the under 16’s.
For further information on the exhibition, visit:

New off-road cycling routes

The complete set of 6 new off-road cycling routes are now available to download from the Board’s website –
Covering different parts of the AONB and using existing public rights of way, the routes take in some of the best views, landscapes, villages and places of interest. As a way of helping to promote the routes and to encourage more people to explore the Cotswolds by bike, they were also featured in Cotswold Life magazine between June and November this year.
An additional feature planned for next year to help describe and interpret the area covered by the routes, is the development of a series of ‘Insights’ which are planned to accompany each route map.


Facebook page

The Cotswolds AONB is now on Facebook. Help us to build up a following to our page by CLICKING HERE to go direct to the site, then click on 'Like'.  We are regularly posting news and general updates here and via our Twitter page to keep up up to date.



People and communities

World Trails Conference 2010

In early November, James Blockley, Cotswold Way National Trail Officer, was invited to attend the first World Trails Conference held on the South Korean island of Jeju, on behalf of the 15 National Trails in England and Wales. The conference brought together trail managers from all over the world for 3 days of dialogue, discussion and debate. James was given the opportunity to deliver a presentation on the management, promotion and development of the Cotswold Way to the 200 delegates from across the globe, which was extremely well received and generated a great deal of interest from the other delegates.
An interesting outcome of the conference is the development of ‘friendship trails’ which involves the teaming up of trails in different countries in a similar way that towns are twinned with others in different parts of the world. Another product of the conference discussions was the proposal for a world trails network, effectively creating an international forum for trail managers to share ideas, best practice, etc.
For further information and to read a more detailed account of his trip, contact James Blockley, National Trail Officer, Cotswold Way on 01451 862034 or

Strategic management and planning

Landscape planning award for Cotswolds Conservation Board

The Cotswolds Conservation Board has received national recognition for its strategic landscape planning by receiving an award at the 2010 Landscape Institute Awards ceremony which took place in London last week.
The Board received the ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Strategic Landscape Planning category, which was presented to them by the poet, journalist and broadcaster Ian McMillan. The award was in recognition of the Board’s approach to the strategic management of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty including the development of its landscape character assessment, local distinctiveness and landscape change research, the Cotswolds AONB Management Plan, and the landscape strategy and guidelines.
Commenting on the Board’s entry, the Award Judges said it showed “comprehensive and thorough use of existing methodology, good integration of contemporary issues associated with climate change and the economic value of landscape.”
The Landscape Institute Awards are presented to encourage and recognise outstanding examples of work by the landscape profession.

Click here to view the Board’s submission document

Mapping the Board's work

A series of maps illustrating the geographical coverage of many aspects of the Board’s work across the Cotswolds AONB has been created by the Board’s student placement Nick Jones, using Geographical Information Systems.
The maps can be downloaded by clicking on the links below:


'Setting of the AONB' position statement

A new position statement on the setting of the AONB has been produced and published by the Board. The position statement provides guidance to local planning authorities, landowners and other interested parties regarding the consideration of the impact of development and land management proposals which lie outside the AONB but within its ‘setting’.

With the inclusion of the ‘Setting of the AONB’, the Board now has a set of 14 very comprehensive position statements covering the following subject areas: affordable housing, renewable energy, management of wild deer, management of roadside verges, keeping of horses, tranquillity and dark skies, transport, miscanthus, minerals and waste, housing and development, employment, biodiversity and telecommunications.

All position statements can be downloaded from the Board’s website:

Rise in renewable energy planning applications

The Conservation Board has noted a significant increase in planning applications for domestic renewable energy projects, particularly for photovoltaic panels (PV panels). These generate electricity from daylight. This surge in interest is largely due to the ability of householders to sell the electricity generated by their panels to electricity companies under the “Feed-in Tariff”*. The Board has supported the majority of these proposals, subject to any concerns regarding the impact on listed buildings being satisfactorily addressed. The use of this technology is in accordance with the renewable energy policy in the AONB Management Plan and the Board’s Position Statement on renewable energy generation in the AONB.
CLICK HERE to view the Board's Position Statement on renewable energy.

Elsewhere in the south west of England proposals have been made for large scale PV “arrays” on agricultural land. Whilst no such proposals have to date been forthcoming for sites in the AONB, the Board will need to carefully consider its response to such proposals which may have a landscape impact.