Latest News

Press release: Board concerned over plans for A417 Missing Link

This month, Highways England has launched a new six week consultation to invite feedback on the latest proposals for the A417 Missing Link improvements. On 14 March 2019, they announced Option 30 as their preferred route for the A417 Missing Link. Responses to the consultation are invited by 8th November.

Since 2014, the Cotswolds Conservation Board has been involved in discussions with Highways England and partner organisations about the proposals for a solution to this problematic section of road in Gloucestershire. The Board fully supports the ambition to make improvements and address the safety and environmental problems presented by the current road layout. Throughout the process though, the Board has pushed for this solution to be landscape-led; as reflected in the jointly agreed vision, design principles, and objectives for any solution – which were agreed with Highways England in 2017.

The recently issued Landscapes Review, commissioned by government and reviewing all the AONBs and National Parks in England and produced by Julian Glover and his advisory panel, recognises the national importance of the Cotswolds landscape. Their recommendations advance the Cotswolds as a candidate National Park and describe the Cotswolds as world famous for its natural beauty, huge popularity with visitors from around the world, and acknowledge that its landscape and villages are one of the emblems of England. They also identify the Cotswolds as a big contributor to the national economy.

This report and its recognition of the Cotswolds as a potential National Park reinforces the need for a highly sensitive and genuine landscape-led solution for the A417.

Whilst the Board is pleased that some of its suggestions for proposed improvements to the preferred route were shown to be better for both the economy and the environment – and have been reflected in the released plans – it is not yet satisfied that Option 30 sufficiently meets the landscape and environmental requirements.

The A417 Missing Link runs through Crickley Hill, in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding National Beauty and, together with Barrow Wake, is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. An Iron-Age hill fort (a Scheduled Ancient Monument), archaeology, limestone grassland, ancient woodland, Cotswold Way National Trail, and diverse wildlife all make this a nationally and internationally important landscape. It’s for these reasons that the Conservation Board has been working with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust (who own and manage Crickley Hill and Barrow Wake) to ensure that the proposed road scheme genuinely achieves the agreed landscape-led vision, design principles, and objectives.

The Board is encouraging everyone to consider Route 30 and its potential impact, and to have their say during the consultation period.

Martin Lane, Director of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, said, “We’re keen to continue the dialogue with Highways England, and to encourage them to consider a number of further suggestions. We’d like to see more accessible and detailed plans and visuals so the public can fully understand the scale of the impact of the proposals; we’d like Highways England to accept that a 50 metre land bridge is inadequate given the scale of the scheme and how the proposed road carves through the landscape;  Highways England has previously dismissed tunnel solutions for different route options, but we’d like to see them considered for Option 30 given the scale of impact, size, depth and length of the cutting being proposed through the AONB; and we’d like information about where site compounds will be located.

We want to encourage everyone to have their say and contribute to the consultation – whether they are road users and commuters, those who use Crickley Hill for leisure, live nearby, or people engaged with conservation. The A417 improvements will affect everyone, for many decades to come, so it is crucial that the final solution is the right one for an internationally recognised landscape.”

ENDS

 Notes to editors:

  • Highways England’s A417 Missing Link information including the consultation events can be found at: https://highwaysengland.co.uk/projects/a417-missing-link/
  • Please contact Alana Hopkins at hopkins@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk / 01451 862 003 for further information or interview opportunities.
  • The Glover Landscapes Review can be viewed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/833163/landscapes-review-final-report.pdf References to the Cotswolds as a candidate for a new National Park can be found in Chapter 4: More Special Places (pages 117 – 123)
  • The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape. www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members – 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • 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.
  • The land management position statements are for use by local authorities, government agencies, land agents, advisers, land managers, farmers and the public. They, along with the planning and transport position statements are available on the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s website.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas.  There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland.  For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk

Press release: Glover Landscapes Review published

The Glover Landscapes Review is encouraging and has been enthusiastically received by the Cotswolds Conservation Board

This month, Julian Glover published his Landscapes Review, which examined England’s National Parks and AONBs and was commissioned by the government in May 2018. The report is very encouraging, with many positive recommendations that chime with the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s submission to Glover at the end of last year – including that consideration be given to the Cotswolds as a future National Park.

Other recommendations include bringing National Parks and AONBs together as a National Landscapes Service, bringing the National Trails into such a service, making Parks and AONBs priorities for the new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS), and encouraging everyone – young and old, and from all backgrounds – to access and enjoy national landscapes more.

Panel members visited the Cotswolds AONB and the Conservation Board in August 2018. Overall, they visited every English National Park and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), as well as National Parks in Scotland and unprotected landscapes.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board is pleased that the review proposes consideration be given to designating new National Parks, having responded to the call for evidence requested by Glover and his panel, and putting forward a strong case for the Cotswolds becoming England’s next National Park. There would be many benefits for the Cotswolds, not least a unified approach to management and conservation and greater awareness by the public of what makes the area so very special.

Martin Lane, Director of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, said, “We are very pleased that Julian Glover and his panel have observed that it is time for a great deal of positive change in relation to England’s most outstanding landscapes. It’s encouraging that the review recommends the Cotswolds be considered as a candidate for joining the family of National Parks. Julian Glover and his advisers recognise that the Cotswolds is world famous for its natural beauty, hugely popular with visitors from around the world, and that its landscape and villages are one of the emblems of England. There’s nowhere quite like the Cotswolds – it is considered by many to be the walking and exploring capital of England, it has a fascinating human history, it’s home to numerous wildlife and reserves; and above all, is a living, breathing farming landscape. The benefits of National Park status for both residents and visitors in the Cotswolds are plentiful – and we look forward to participating in discussions as government considers the review’s proposals.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • The full Landscapes Review can be found online here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/833163/landscapes-review-final-report.pdf
  • The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape. www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members – 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • 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.
  • The land management position statements are for use by local authorities, government agencies, land agents, advisers, land managers, farmers and the public. They, along with the planning and transport position statements are available on the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s website.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas.  There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland.  For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk

The Cotswolds – a new National Park?

 

In 2018, Julian Glover began leading the Designated Landscapes Review, which was commissioned by the government in response to the 25 year Environment Plan.

Glover intends to publish a full report in the autumn.

Glover and his panel of six colleagues invited everyone to share their views around designated landscapes. 2,500 detailed submissions were received – and these were from organisations and individuals. We submitted our own responses, and published these on our site as a Position Statement and a set of FAQs.  The panel visited every national park in England, and in July 2019 had been to almost every national park in Scotland, as well as almost all the designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and many unprotected landscapes.

We posted a link to the interim findings letter from Julian Glover, sent to Michael Gove, in an earlier post. We were encouraged by the interim findings – which described the nation’s protected landscapes as not having “been given the tools, the funding and the direction to do the job”. Glover and his panel describe an erosion of “national zeal” for the founding mission for landscape protection. Their view is that there is a need to “reignite the fire and vision which brought this system into being in 1949. We need our finest landscapes to be places of natural beauty which look up and outwards to the nation they serve.”

The panel have acknowledged that more must be done for nature and beauty, and more for the people who live in and visit our protected landscapes. And, more should be done to help welcome those less familiar with the countryside.

The final report from the panel will provide views on new designations for National Parks. In the Conservation Board’s 2018 – 2023 Management Plan, we state that one of our four ambitions is to promote the case for the Cotswolds being designated as England’s next National Park. This booklet explores the case for a possible new Cotswolds National Park…


New Secretary of State appointees join the Board

Defra has confirmed three new Secretary of State appointees to the Cotswold Conservation Board, who are all set to take up their roles with immediate effect.

Dom Morris runs his family arable farm of around 1,100 acres near Cirencester, and has a wealth of experience as a military consultant and advisor. Dominic’s career has focused upon advising senior decision makers, civil servants, and military commanders on strategy and change management. Dom also has an interest in welfare reform – cutting his teeth running Prince’s Trust and Millennium Volunteers programmes for young people in Gloucestershire.

Graham Hopkins is a Chartered Engineer with a career spanning forty years. His last corporate role was as Safety, Technical and Engineering Director for Network Rail, and as part of that, he chaired the Rail Industry Technical Leadership Group. Before that, he spent many years with Rolls-Royce plc, including as Director of Engineering and Technology for Defence Engines. Graham has lived in the Cotswolds for over 15 years and is passionate about the Cotswold landscape and communities.

Brendan Costelloe is originally from Cheltenham, and has been working in planning and conservation for the last 15 years. His experience spans working in local government, in private practice, for the RSPB, and for the British Ecological Society. At the British Ecological Society, he works in the policy team which monitors the development of legislation and policies relevant to biodiversity and conservation.

Director of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, Martin Lane, said, “We’re delighted to welcome Dom, Graham, and Brendan to the Conservation Board, they have a wealth of skills and experience to apply to conserving and enhancing the Cotswolds and enabling people to explore and enjoy the AONB.”


Landscapes Review – interim update from Julian Glover

This month, Julian Glover has written to Michael Gove to detail interim findings from the Landscapes Review. This review was to consider the next steps for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty sites (AONBs) in England.

The letters can be viewed online here. 

We’re pleased to see this review moving along, and look forward to the complete report, which will be published in the autumn of 2019.


Celebrating a successful year of Sustainable Development Funding!

Applications to the 2019/20 Sustainable Development Fund offered by the Cotswold Conservation Board asked applicants to focus on projects which focused on education and young people across the Cotswolds AONB. A sum of £16,970 has been awarded to the three successful project applications…

The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was awarded a grant of £7,200 to construct a roundhouse building to use as a training venue for their community outreach programme. The programme works with both school pupils and community groups, and offers courses from bushcraft skills and outdoor campfires with youth groups, to natural arts and craft projects with disadvantaged adults, and outreach sessions for those unable to visit. The outreach programme aims to .make a positive difference on peoples’ wellbeing.

The Royal Agricultural University was awarded a grant of £8,000 for a physical and educational hub. The hub will include an introductory workshop, field visits, practical investigations, and the dissemination of conclusions following project completion.

Stroud District Council (Cowle) Museum Trust has been awarded £1,770 to produce a Living Limestone event – which will centre on the construction of a dry stone wall. The event and the building of the wall will provide learning resources for subsequent incorporation into the museum’s displays.

The funded projects were successful because they demonstrated ambitions to provide educational experiences and services for local communities and young people; and because they had forward-looking approaches which would help communities continue to learn in the future.