Month: October 2020

A417 ‘MISSING LINK’ STATUTORY CONSULTATION

PRESS RELEASE REGARDING THE A417 ‘MISSING LINK’ STATUTORY CONSULTATION
13 October – 12 November 2020

From: Cotswolds Conservation Board, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, and the National
Trust

Highways England have today put forward their proposed revisions to the A417 Missing Link road scheme, addressing some of the concerns raised in feedback from the October 2019 public
consultation.

Collectively, the Cotswolds Conservation Board (operating as Cotswolds National Landscape),
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust are encouraged by recent discussions with
Highways England and believe that the proposed changes in this second statutory consultation have the potential to improve the scheme.

However, Highways England are aware we still have areas of concern, including the functionality and design of some of the crossings and overbridges. The three overbridges must deliver their intended outcomes – connecting habitats via wildlife corridors and counteracting the negative impacts of the new dual carriageway on protected wildlife sites. The crossings and overbridges should also be visually in tune with the special characteristics of the Cotswolds landscape.

We share concerns about the impact on Sites of Special Scientific Interest, in particular high priority habitats (such as lowland calcareous grassland). Careful design and mitigation can help to reduce biodiversity losses but we are encouraging Highways England go further and seek biodiversity net gain.

The organisations remain committed to constructive discussions with Highways England. We support the need to resolve safety and congestion issues but believe equal consideration should be given to reducing and mitigating environmental impacts as to engineering design. This would help to ensure the right level of protection for the natural beauty, diverse wildlife and unique heritage of the Cotswolds.

It is essential that the scheme brings benefits for people, the landscape and wildlife at a time when the importance of nature and outdoor green space has become clearer and more precious than ever. Highways England has a real opportunity to deliver on their landscape-led vision, meet the Government’s call to ‘build better, build greener’ and honour the Prime Minister’s renewed commitment to support the recovery of nature.

Each organisation will now closely examine the details published today and submit full individual responses in due course.

ENDS
Background Information:
Information about the A417 ‘Missing Link’ scheme can be found on Highways England’s website.

Cotswolds Conservation Board (operating as Cotswolds National Landscape):
The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high-quality landscape. The Cotswolds is the third largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust:
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) works closely with local communities, landowners and partners to deliver much-needed conservation work across more than 1000 hectares of nature reserves, and within the wider landscape of Gloucestershire. This vital work safeguards these remaining special wild places and drives nature’s recovery, working towards a future where the countryside thrives once more with wildlife, wildflowers, trees, butterflies, insects and animals. The charity also delivers a vast range of events and projects across the county, as well as providing free public access to its nature reserves, enabling people from all backgrounds to spend time outdoors and get closer to nature.

National Trust:
The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 778 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The National Trust works in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to look after and protect Crickley Hill, its archaeology, limestone
grassland, ancient woodland and diverse wildlife.

For further press information and images please contact:
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust – tessa.hirst@gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk
National Trust – Sue.Wharmby@nationaltrust.org.uk


Glos’ green challenge hits halfway milestone

Volunteers plant 1,100 trees in just two months

A campaign to replace some of the thousands of Gloucestershire trees being decimated by ash dieback has reached its halfway point in just two months.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s ‘Ourboretum’ project called on volunteers to grow saplings at home, which will then be planted outside in the winter of 2021/22.

And green-fingered volunteers leapt to the challenge, planting 650 acorns, 200 beech mast and 270 hazelnuts since late July. They will grow into oaks, beeches and hazels respectively.

Those getting involved in Ourboretum include:

  • A family-run coach company getting staff involved as ‘a symbol of new beginnings’
  • A couple who collected 26 acorns as they celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary
  • A Forest of Dean gardening group growing 50 trees
  • A woman growing a tree in memory of her mum
  • A mother inspired by her daughter who gave away acorns as favours on her wedding day

BBC Radio Gloucestershire breakfast presenter Mark Cummings said: “What a phenomenal response! Ourboretum is showing just how important the great outdoors is to Gloucestershire folk.

“If our amazing volunteer army carries on like this we won’t just hit the 2,020 target – we’ll smash it.”

According to the Woodland Trust, 95% of British ash trees will vanish over the coming years because of ash dieback, an incurable disease. Gloucestershire is home to hundreds of thousands of ash trees – it is the third most common tree in the county – and experts fear the loss could have a disastrous effect on the landscape and wildlife.

Mark Connelly, Land Management Officer for the Cotswolds National Landscape said, “We’re delighted with the response so far to Ourboretum! It’s really captured people’s imaginations in Gloucestershire, and we’re really pleased so many people are already involved! We’re also pleased that the project caught the attention of Ground Control – who are now supplying us with around 2,000 pots, as well as compost and labels, to help people continue to join in with this brilliant project.”

How to get involved:

  • Volunteers collect seeds during autumn using the guidance online: www.bbc.co.uk/ourboretum
  • The website will then help them get all the info they need to begin growing the seeds at home
  • These home-grown saplings will then be planted across Gloucestershire next winter (2021/2022). BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Cotswolds AONB will identify locations where the fledgling trees can be planted and aim to log each one to create a permanent record of where they are growing

ENDS

Notes to editor: