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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:


The Cotswolds AONB gets a new look and a new name

 

The Cotswolds Conservation Board, which looks after the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) announces a new name and logo this week. The change is an active welcome to the findings in Julian Glover’s Landscapes Review published in 2019.

 

The review proposed that National Parks and AONBs should be brought together, as “one family of national landscapes”; it suggested that the cumbersome title ‘AONB’ should be replaced – with ‘National Landscape’; and it reminded us that our precious natural landscapes have always been, in part, meant to provide everybody the opportunity to connect with nature. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, it is clear that people cherish the great outdoors – and that it’s for all of us to enjoy and look after.

The new look for the Cotswolds embodies all these observations. Inspired by the special qualities of the Cotswolds landscape, the logo retains and amplifies the Cotswold Lion sheep synonymous with the region, now features the updated ‘Cotswolds National Landscape’ name, and presents a bold new colour. It gives a nod to the heritage of the Cotswolds, but showcases the area in a more energetic, invigorating, and inviting way.

Andy Parsons, its new Chief Executive said, “We firmly believe that this landscape is for everyone to enjoy and explore; and we hope that this exciting step will help people to better understand what we’re about – looking after the Cotswolds National Landscape, and helping people connect with nature in the Cotswolds.”

Brendan McCarthy, the organisation’s Chairman, said, “we warmly welcome the outcomes of the Glover Review and look forward to working closely with Defra and all our partners on the next steps. This change is the first of these, and an important part of our work to conserve and enhance this wonderful landscape, and to welcome visitors to enjoy it.”

Julian Glover, author of the Landscapes Review, said, “The Cotswolds stand out among our most famous and beautiful landscapes, as one of the places that make England special. They look unchanging but keeping their character and backing natural recovery will take effort and leadership. It’s a fight we must win – which is why I’m so pleased to see some of the ideas from our recent landscape review put to work in this precious place.”

Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity), said, “Our national landscapes are at the heart of our rural communities and rural economy, and I welcome this rebrand which I hope will encourage more people to enjoy our spectacular English landscapes.”

Jenny Forde, Cotswold District Councillor, said, “I’m delighted to see this new logo and name. This landscape is so good looking, it’s basically a supermodel! Great to see it in the spotlight!”

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Member of Parliament for the Cotswolds, said, “I warmly welcome this rebranding, as it will sharpen everyone’s appreciation for how special the Cotswolds really is – both in the quality of the landscape, and in its built environment.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Please contact Alana Hopkins at hopkins@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk for further information or interview opportunities.

  • The Landscapes Review Final Report can be found on gov.uk
  • The Cotswolds National Landscape was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape, and is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board. www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
  • The Cotswolds Conservation Board is 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 Conservation Board’s purposes are to:
    -conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Cotswolds AONB
    -increase understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the AONB
  • 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.
  • 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. For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 13 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.uk

A collective response to the revisions to A417 plans

PRESS RELEASE REGARDING THE A417 ‘MISSING LINK’ ROAD SCHEME
From: Cotswolds Conservation Board, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, National Trust and Natural England

Highways England has announced its revisions to the A417 Missing Link road scheme, addressing some of the concerns raised in feedback during the October 2019 public consultation.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, National Trust and Natural England are urging Highways England to use this opportunity to ensure the revised road scheme not only addresses safety and congestion issues but also brings the best outcomes for local communities and benefits the natural beauty, diverse wildlife and unique heritage of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB).

Each of the four organisations has proactively engaged with the scheme since it was first proposed and, although collaborative work has resulted in positive changes, there is now an opportunity to ensure the design of the new road meets the landscape-led vision, objectives and design principles that have been agreed by Highways England and other stakeholders, as well as the Government’s desire to ‘build better, build greener’.

The importance of nature and outdoor spaces to our health and wellbeing has become even clearer in recent months. So, it’s now more important than ever that we work hard to safeguard opportunities for everyone to explore and enjoy the countryside. This is a special environment that deserves protection. The organisations would like to see the following improvements:

1. People – as well as creating a safer, less congested route, people should have more opportunity to explore and enjoy this outstanding landscape, its ecology and heritage. Existing footpaths and rights of way must be improved so they are accessible for all and new recreational opportunities developed for local communities and visitors.

2. Landscape – to achieve the landscape-led vision, the revised scheme should include mitigation to minimise the adverse impact of new infrastructure, reverse biodiversity net loss, and strengthen landscape connectivity. Equal care should be paid to mitigation measures as to planning requirements.

3. Wildlife – Highways England should maximise opportunities for nature to thrive. Protecting irreplaceable habitats and providing relevant connections so that species can travel across the landscape will avoid negative impacts on biodiversity, strengthen ecological resilience and enhance the special environment of the Cotswolds AONB. Gloucestershire’s economy and people’s quality of life depends upon the health of its natural assets and yet they are declining at unprecedented rate.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, National Trust and Natural England, alongside other key stakeholders, are all eager to help Highways England continue to seek the best way to deliver a landscape-led scheme that leaves a positive legacy for future generations, the landscape, wildlife and heritage.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to resolve the challenges of the present road and protect the environment within which it sits. Further collaborative thinking and a true commitment to ‘build greener’ will ensure that the huge potential here can be fully realised.

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

Cotswolds Conservation Board:
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 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.

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.

Natural England:
Established in 2006, Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

For further press information and images please contact:
Cotswolds Conservation Board – Alana.Hopkins@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust – tessa.hirst@gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk
National Trust – Sue.Wharmby@nationaltrust.org.uk
Natural England – peter.w.loat@naturalengand.org.uk


‘Volunteer army’ to replace dying trees with 2,020 new saplings

A grassroots project will see Gloucestershire people growing new trees to replace the hundreds of thousands being wiped out by ash dieback.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Cotswolds AONB will lead an army of volunteers to grow at least 2,020 saplings at home over the coming year in a scheme dubbed ‘Ourboretum’.

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.

Ourboretum, launched today, will begin replacing the lost ash trees with oak, beech and hazel.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire communities journalist Chris Sandys said: “Our landscape is part of what makes Gloucestershire such a great place to live and it’ll be so sad to see it torn apart by ash dieback. But tying our communities with our countryside for generations to come is a thrilling prospect.

“Ourboretum is about getting people from all over Gloucestershire outside, enjoying our county and growing together for the good of the next generation.

“We plan to plant seeds to grow at least 2,020 trees in 2020 and we need your help.”

Garden designer and broadcaster Chris Beardshaw, an Ourboretum ambassador, added: “Ourboretum is such a fabulous idea. It’s beautifully simple; we go and collect seeds and we create a new generation of trees and woodlands in our own communities for our children and their children to enjoy.

“For me, being an ambassador for Ourboretum is a huge privilege. Growing trees is what got me started in my love of not just horticulture and designing landscapes, but of the countryside and really celebrating who we are as a nation and our links to the countryside.”

How to get involved:

  • Volunteers will be asked to collect seeds, during autumn, using the guidance online
  • Visit www.bbc.co.uk/ourboretum to find more information and tips for growing seeds at home
  • These home-grown saplings will then be planted across Gloucestershire next year. BBC Radio Gloucestershire and the 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

Mark Connelly, Land Management Officer at Cotswolds Conservation Board who look after the AONB, said: “We’re delighted to be working with BBC Radio Gloucestershire to launch Ourboretum. The loss of ash trees across the landscape in Gloucestershire will leave a devastating mark. The more trees we can plant to replace those we lose, the better chance we will have to benefit both the landscape and the wildlife that lives in it.”

To find out more contact trees@bbc.co.uk or go to www.bbc.co.uk/ourboretum

ENDS

Notes to editor:

For more information contact Jack Pitts on 07834 845545 or jack.pitts@bbc.co.uk


Covid-19 Update 18/5/20

Following the government’s review of the Covid-19 situation on 11/5/20, we would like to offer an update from the Cotswolds Conservation Board. The government has said that we should all still try to stay at home as much as possible, but that we can also now enjoy more outdoor exercise (with members of our own households), and we may travel to open spaces. This is good news – it’s good for our bodies and our minds to get outside and connect with nature.

With this in mind, we’d like to remind those who are looking to enjoy the countryside on their doorstep of the following:

  1. We must still all observe social distancing guidelines, even outdoors and in the countryside.
    If a walking path is narrow, wait for others to pass. Be patient.
  2. Respect those who live here.
    Many of our countryside residents and landowners are older and fit into the ‘vulnerable’ category of those at risk from coronavirus. Help protect their health by remembering good hygiene around gates and stiles, being considerate about where you park, and looking out for and adhering to any route diversions (which may be in place to protect those on farms, for example asking walkers not to go through the yard, or not to go past the house etc).
  3. Plan your visit – try to avoid the honeypot locations (towns and countryside); research where you’re going to park; and check if the locations and car parks you’re heading to are open. Download self-guided walking routes.
  4. Remember the Countryside Code. Stick to it. If you don’t know it, learn it here.
  5. Tread carefully – remember that during lockdown, nature has reclaimed space!
    Please be very careful not to disturb wildlife. This might include ground-nesting birds, wildflowers, or animals that may have moved into areas unexpectedly during lockdown.
  6. Please use your common sense – keep dogs on leads and pick up their mess, don’t release sky lanterns, don’t have barbecues or bonfires, don’t drop any litter.
  7. Many local businesses are still closed – plan ahead, and bring food and drink with you…but please take your litter home!
  8. Many toilet facilities will be closed – please check before visiting.

Take your time, and breathe – these are strange times, but we can take this opportunity to slow down, understand, enjoy and appreciate our surroundings more. Nature has a wonderful ability to help us to heal, and we should make the most of that, and be grateful for it.