Pressures on the landscape from housing, energy and transport infrastructure development continue to be among the key challenges facing us. We therefore work in close partnership with others at a strategic level to influence, advise and persuade on matters that affect those who live, work and visit the Cotswolds AONB. As well as providing guidance documents and policy statements on a variety of topics, from roadside verge management to renewable energy, we frequently respond to consultations from a range of organisations.
Key achievements of 2011/12 are:
- We continued to perform well on major planning application consultations with 15 out of 19 of our responses agreed and acted upon. Applications included a care village, car parking, a golf driving range, residential development, wind turbines, and mineral extraction.
- The Board generally submitted supportive comments for photovoltaic arrays, both free standing and on buildings in accordance with our position satement on renewable energy. There is now over 14MW of renewable energy generating capacity approved and awaiting construction or constructed in or adjoining the Cotswolds AONB.
- The Board continued to actively participate in planning policy formulation both nationally and locally. Substantive responses were made to consultations by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) regarding the draft National Planning Policy Framework, and the change of use regulations. Responses were made to Minerals and Waste planning policy proposals by Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire County Councils, and Wiltshire Council. The Board contributed to the development of Core Strategies by Cotswold District, Stratford-on-Avon District, Stroud District, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough (jointly), South Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire Councils.
- The Board’s Planning Officer provided expert evidence at two major planning appeals on behalf of Cotswold District Council.
- With respect to transport issues, the Board submitted comments on the A417 Air Balloon/Birdlip Air Quality Study, and responded to the scoping of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed reopening of the Honeybourne to Stratford-upon-Avon rail line. Representations were made to the Highways Agency with respect to new signage on the A.46 at Beckford, Worcestershire. The Board contributed to the review of highway signage undertaken by the Department for Transport and the subsequent draft Guidance.
- We submitted our formal response to the Government’s consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England. The new framework is intended to replace all existing Planning Policy Guidance and Statements and therefore aims to simplify planning rules and make the process easier to understand.
- We supported the application for temporary fencing on Cleeve Common to restore 5ha of Lowland Heath.
- We responded in June 2011 to the Independent Forestry Panel’s call for views. The Independent Forestry Panel was established on 17 March 2011 by the Secretary of State to advise government on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England.
- We supported the idea of a Three Counties Traditional Orchards Project. The project is to help support orchard owners and local people throughout the three counties to manage and learn about traditional orchards. Working at a large 'landscape' scale, the project covers Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. Key aims of the project are to secure greater community involvement and to help manage those traditional orchards which are not currently being managed.
- Under Section 156 of the Water Industry Act 1991, water companies need the consent of the Secretary of State to dispose of ‘protected land’ eg Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), or land within National Parks and AONBs. Approval or otherwise to dispose of land is delegated to Natural England who in turn consult the Board. Any agreement to dispose of land can contain conditions in the form of covenants and/or management agreements. We responded to proposed land disposals at Witcombe reservoirs and Dowdeswell Wood.