June/July 2013: Latest news from the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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News from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

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Cotswolds AONB eNews
Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Cotswolds AONB eNews, a quarterly newsletter designed to keep you up-to-date on all of the Cotswolds Conservation Board's latest activity, news and insights from across the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Overhead wires removed at entrance to Bath

Before After

One of the most attractive entrances to the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the World Heritage Site of Bath has been significantly improved thanks to a major project to underground overhead power cables and enhance the landscape of this distinctive part of the Cotswolds.

Over 2,535m of cables and 41 poles have been removed near to the racecourse at Lansdown in Bath and replaced with underground cables.  The landscape enhancement scheme was undertaken by Western Power Distribution (WPD) in conjunction with the Cotswolds Conservation Board at a cost of £225,000.  This is one of several similar schemes being carried out by WPD in AONBs in the South West, South Wales and the Midlands.


A new approach to grazing in the Cotswolds

A new report which looks at the potential use of a cooperative grazing approach for grassland management in the Cotswolds AONB has been published.

The study, conducted by the Royal Agricultural University, identifies various barriers to and opportunities for grazing in two study areas – the Cotswolds Scarp Nature Improvement Area (NIA) and the Cotswolds Valleys NIA.

The report concludes that some collaborative grazing is already happening in the Cotswolds and could be further developed through landowner and farmer engagement.  It suggests a recommendation for a pilot scheme on the Cotswolds Scarp to focus on three key areas: provision of grants for stock proofing, development of an online grassland database, and the appointment of a project officer.

Read more....

Building up great feedback for rural skills courses

A recent analysis of customer feedback from last year's Rural Skills Programme shows an overwhelmingly positive experience for customers, from initial booking through to final completion of the course.  

Highlights from the feedback show that 81% of people found the course easy to book; 74% found the location suitable; 90% found the trainers helpful; 80% said the course was value for money; and 97% felt that their expectations had been met during the course.

Some of the comments received from course participants include:

Had a fantastic weekend, met some lovely people and a real spirit of camaraderie. It was a real sense of achievement when the hedge line was finished.”

“To know that wall will be there for years to come and that I was a part of building it is quite something! Kath was a great trainer...she was very motivational, very well experienced and clearly good at what she does.”

“It was a very worthwhile weekend, a good group of people and the tutor was very helpful.”

Find out more about our rural skills courses by visiting: www.cotswoldsruralskills.org.uk

Understanding and enjoying

Minchinhampton wildlife day for tourism businesses

Tourism businesses across the AONB are being invited to attend an event on Thursday 13 June to learn more about the magnificent wildflower grasslands of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Organised as part of the Our Land sustainable tourism initiative, the event will be held at Minchinhampton Common – one of the Cotswolds’ limestone grassland commons and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Tourism providers can explore the wildflowers and wildlife of the common and discover from the experts why our grasslands are such special places. They can then build upon their own knowledge and share their new insights to enhance their visitors’ experience.

The event also coincides with the National Trust’s centenary celebrations of caring for Minchinhampton Common.


New programme of events and activities at the 'Escape to the Cotswolds' visitor centre

Join us at the Escape to the Cotswolds visitor centre this summer for an exciting new programme of events and activities.

A wide range of talks, walks and tours will be taking place in June, including a guided tour of the history of the Old Prison, an historical walk through the medieval town of Northleach plus a talk featuring practical advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint.

On 4 July, there will be a special guest visit by Dr Paul Taylor, Senior Bryozoan Research Scientist at the Natural History Museum, London, who will be delivering an illustrated talk entitled: 'The Jurassic beneath your feet: the geology, fossils and landscape around Northleach'.  Dr Taylor will also be leading workshops for local schoolchildren.

For further details of events during June and July, see events listing below, or visit: www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk

Strategic management and planning

New Management Plan for the Cotswolds AONB adopted

Following extensive consultation, the new Cotswolds AONB Management Plan 2013-2018 has been adopted by the Board and has been published on the Board's website.

The new 5-year statutory plan describes the special qualities of the Cotswolds and sets out the vision for the Cotswolds AONB over the coming years. The document provides a policy framework and identifies a series of objectives to help guide the work of the Conservation Board and its partner organisations towards the future conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the AONB, as well as increasing the understanding and enjoyment of the its special qualities.


Conservation Board shows good value for money for local authorities

Figures from last year show how the Board is offering real value for money for local authorities through its ability to successfully lever in additional funds for investment in the Cotswolds AONB.

Through grant schemes such as the Sustainable Development Fund and Dry Stone Walling Grant Scheme, along with the value of the work undertaken by the Board's Voluntary Wardens, plus further funds that are attracted to the area via other schemes facilitated by the Board eg Higher Level Stewardship, the total value of the resources delivered as a result of Board activity last year was £2,815,000.  This represents a gearing of £273 invested back into the AONB, for each £1 contributed by a local authority.


People and communities

New report shows the Cotswolds AONB is good for business

Being located in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is good for business, according to a new report published by the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

Using economic data for the Cotswolds AONB and a survey among 166 businesses across the area, the report estimates around £337 million of direct and indirect economic activity, measured as ‘gross value added’ and 9,720 jobs, are "critically dependent" on the AONB's high-quality environment and landscape. In addition, 83% of the businesses surveyed felt that being in the AONB has a positive impact on their businesses, with very few indicating a negative impact. As well as economic benefits, the AONB is considered to have a positive impact on the local economy in terms of raising the recognition of the area, encouraging sustainability and promoting local sourcing.


Another busy year for Cotswold Voluntary Wardens

Cotswold Voluntary Wardens have spent another busy year undertaking a variety of conservation work, leading guided walks, patrolling footpaths and helping to raise awareness of the AONB among visitors, schools and local communities.

Despite a reduction in the number of hours worked last year because of poor weather, our wardens managed to achieve either similar or better results than the previous year.

Achievements for individual activities include 729,826sq metres of grassland area worked, 18,370sq metres of woodland coppiced, 1,224 trees planted, 1,134 metres of stone walling built, 263 steps installed on slopes, 101 metres of stream/ditch cleared, 94 waymarks and fingerposts installed, 330 guided walks led and 1,170 schoolchildren involved with education days.


New appointments to the Board

 Two new appointments to the Board - Val Kirby and Ed Macalister-Smith - have been confirmed by Richard Benyon, Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries. 

Dr Val Kirby lives in Stroud and is a landscape architect and town planner with extensive experience in landscape policy and strategy. For several years she was Head of Landscape and Geodiversity at Natural England. She has also worked for the Countryside Agency and for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Ed Macalister-Smith and his wife Rosemary live within the AONB in Long Compton, Warwickshire. He has recently retired after a career in senior roles in the NHS and in the third sector. His most recent role was as Chief Executive across the NHS covering all of Wiltshire, and Bath & North East Somerset. 


Coventry children get a taste of the Cotswolds

Thirty Coventry children are to team up with pupils at their twinned school in the village of Ilmington for a wild day in the Cotswolds this Wednesday, 12 June.

A team of Voluntary Wardens will help take them fishing for water bugs, shaking trees to collect flying beasties, hunting for wooden mice hidden in the village church and learning how to read a churchyard. Local schoolchildren will partner their visitors from All Saints primary school, Strathmore Avenue, Coventry.

The Wardens run frequent wild days in the countryside for village schools. Ilmington is the first to include children from its twinned inner-city school in the scheme.

Diary dates

Wednesday, 12th June from 2 – 3:30pm
Guided Walk around the Medieval Wool Town of Northleach – see the visible signs of its history from the 13th century to the present day.
By Cotswold Warden, John Heathcott.
Start from/finish at the “Escape to the Cotswolds” Centre, The Old Prison, Northleach, GL54 3JH

Wednesday, 19th June from 2 – 3:30pm
Tour of the History of Northleach Old Prison
Learn about this famous “House of Correction” with lively anecdotes about daily life.
By Local Historian, Michael Banks.

Wednesday, 26th June from 2 – 3:30pm
Wish to be smarter about energy and reduce your bills and carbon footprint?
With our helpful hints and tips, it has never been easier to safeguard one of the most beautiful areas of England.
By CCB Climate Change Advisor, James Lloyd.

Thursday, 04/07/13 from 2 - 3:30pm
Illustrated talk on “The Jurassic beneath your feet: the geology, fossils and landscape around Northleach.”
By Senior Bryozoan Research Scientist, Dr. Paul Taylor of the Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London.

Thursday, 11/07/13 from 2 – 3:30pm.
Illustrated talk on “National Trails – National Assets: A short talk on the management and development of National Trails using the Cotswold Way as a case study.”
By James Blockley, Cotswolds Trails & Access Officer

Saturday, 13/-7/13 from 11am – 3pm.
“Rock and Fossil Roadshow” “Hands-on” family fun including making fossils, rock and fossil handling and craft activities. Cost £2.50 per child. Bring along your own rocks and fossils for our experts to identify.
Led by volunteers from the Gloucestershire Geology Trust.

Wednesday, 17/07/13 from 2 – 3:30pm.
Guided Tour of the History of Northleach Old Prison and Sessional Courtroom.
Led by local historian, Michael Banks who is shortly publishing a book on the history of the prison.

Thursday, 25/07/13 from 2 – 3:30pm.
Guided Geology and Landcape Trail from Northleach across fields to Hampnett and return. Approx 2 miles.
Led by Denise Dane, Centre Manager.
Start & finish at the “Escape to the Cotswolds” Centre.

Cost of all above events, unless otherwise stated: £3.50 per person including talk/ tour/activity, refreshments and time to view the exhibition.