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Cotswolds Conservation Board brings quarry stakeholders together

Photograph of Guiting Quarry (Copyright: Paul Keyte, The Johnston Quarry Group)

The Cotswolds Conservation Board has initiated and organised a quarry stakeholder meeting relating to the cluster of eight quarries between Naunton and Toddington in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The meeting was held on 29th January at Toddington Village Hall and was attended by 43 participants, including representatives from the quarry operators, parish councils, local authorities and the Conservation Board.

One of the special qualities of the Cotswolds AONB that makes the area so unique and distinctive is the unifying character of the limestone geology, including its use as a building material. However, ensuring a sufficient supply of this building material depends on having a sufficient level of quarrying within the AONB. In addition, there is demand for this stone as a building material outside the AONB, as well as demand for other quarry products, such as aggregate and lime.  The challenge is to get the right balance between providing these quarry products and conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB as a whole.

Getting the right balance is particularly challenging in the Naunton-Toddington area, where eight quarries operate in close proximity to each other and where the associated lorry movements are on minor roads and B roads passing through rural villages and parishes. This close proximity means that the potential cumulative impact of the quarries is a key issue, which needs to be addressed in a holistic way.

The purpose of the quarry stakeholder meeting was to bring together relevant stakeholders to find out if there was consensus on the need for a holistic approach across this quarry cluster and, if so, what this holistic approach might mean in practice. The meeting was run by an independent facilitator to help ensure that it provided a positive forum for discussion and debate.

Speaking about the meeting, John Mills, Planning and Landscape Officer at the Cotswolds Conservation Board, said, “We were delighted that this meeting was so well attended by representatives from key businesses and organisations relating to quarrying in the area. The meeting proved to be a helpful discussion which improved knowledge and understanding around quarrying, and addressed a number of key questions about the issues that arise from it. We also spoke constructively about how we might work on these issues together in the future.”

Paul Keyte, from the Johnston Group (who are involved with two of the quarries in this cluster) said, “We were pleased to participate in the stakeholders meeting about the area around our quarries.  We believe all parties would benefit from good engagement helping to understand each other better. We know our quarries are part of the local community and going forward we want to be the best neighbours we can be.”

Temple Guiting Parish Council said, “We welcome the Cotswold Conservation Board’s initiative to bring together relevant stakeholders to review the challenges quarrying can bring to the AONB, particularly to communities in the North Cotswolds. We support local quarrying for the production of local limestone to preserve the heritage of this area, in particular for dry stone walling and building. We look forward to continuing to work with the Board on the next steps, which should give all parties greater understanding of the industry and its improved interactions with our local communities.”

It is anticipated that the next step will be to set up a steering group to take forward the ideas and suggested actions that were discussed at the quarry stakeholder meeting.

 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Please contact Alana Hopkins at hopkins@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk / 01451 862 003 for further information or interview opportunities.
  • 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 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, ensuring that these complement the conservation and enhancement of the area
  • 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 13 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk.
  • A report of the quarry stakeholder meeting is available from the Cotswolds Conservation Board upon request.

 


Press release: Board launches new landscape enhancement project

This month, the Cotswolds Conservation Board has initiated a new two year project – the Cotswolds AONB Rail Corridor Enhancement Project – funded by Network Rail, which aims to address the adverse impacts of electrification works which have been carried out along a 10km section of the Great Western Main Line railway.

The funding has been provided to develop, manage, and deliver the work, which will focus on two key areas:

  • Line-side planting and other schemes which help to mitigate the visual and landscape impact of the electrification works, within a 6km-wide corridor

and

  • Schemes across a wider area of the Cotswolds AONB, to compensate for the adverse impacts of the electrification works by contributing to the Board’s statutory purposes.

The Conservation Board anticipates that most of the funding will be allocated through a grant programme. This will involve working in partnership with local landowners and communities, with a core focus along the 10km stretch of railway line between Old Sodbury and Alderton in the South Gloucestershire section of the AONB.

The project will be run by a new team member at the Conservation Board – Project Officer Scott Brown. Scott will be working with the Conservation Board in a part time role, and comes to the Board from the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE), an organisation which raises funds and allocates grant for environmental projects in the county. Scott will also continue to work part time as TOE’s Development Officer. In this role, Scott has helped develop a strategic plan to ‘scale-up’ TOE’s activities; as well as leading on the development of TOE’s biodiversity net gain programme, which has secured over £300,000 from developers to fund habitat creation and enhancement projects. This programme built on TOE’s successful Network Rail biodiversity offsetting programme, which allocated approximately £800,000 for habitat projects in Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Scott’s previous roles have included working for the Environment Agency and Defra in stakeholder engagement roles.

Speaking about his appointment, Scott said:  “I’m delighted to have joined the Cotswolds Conservation Board team.  The Project Officer role will dovetail well with my current position at the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, my experience is well suited to this new role, and I am excited to start working with communities in the area.”

Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of the Cotswolds Conservation Board said, “We’re pleased to welcome Scott to the Board. We were delighted to have secured the funding from Network Rail for this project, and hope that people across the AONB will engage with Scott and the grant programme to help us take care of this beautiful landscape.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Please contact Alana Hopkins at hopkins@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk / 01451 862 003 for further information or interview opportunities.
  • 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 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, ensuring that these complement the conservation and enhancement of the area
  • 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 39 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland.  For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 13 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk

Finance Officer Vacancy

We are looking to appoint an experienced Finance Officer to work closely with our new Chief Executive as the organisation enters an exciting new phase.

Is this you?

The Cotswolds Conservation Board’s new Finance Officer will be a qualified accountant with a minimum of three years’ experience in financial management, accounting and budget preparation. Knowledge of public sector accounting practices would be an advantage but not essential.

Ideally, you will be the kind of person that is always keen to drive improvements – introducing smarter and better ways of doing things. We are an organisation that strives for continuous improvement in everything we do.

Alongside the Chief Executive, you will lead on business planning – helping to identify opportunities for sustainable development whilst ensuring the organisation is aware of, and managing, potential risks to its future growth.

And we’re all doing this to ensure that the well-loved landscape of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty continues to be enhanced and enjoyed by everyone.

Salary £35,658-£38,907 pro-rata
Hours 22.5 hours per week (working pattern to suit candidate)
Location Northleach, Gloucestershire

For an informal discussion please contact Andy Parsons, Chief Executive, on 01451 862000.

For a job description and details on how to apply visit www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/jobs or contact Della Morris on 01451 862000.

Closing date:              Monday 10 February 2020, 12pm.

Interview dates:         Week commencing 17 February 2020.


FarmED is open for business!

Side view of FarmED

 

FarmED is the new centre for farming and food education based at Honeydale Farm in the Cotswolds. At the heart of the farm’s 107 acres will be three impressive eco-buildings. One provides space for conferences, lectures, workshops and special events. This building has been supported by the Cotswolds LEADER Programme and is now open. Building two will be a farm to fork kitchen and food education space, and a regenerative business incubator (planned for June 2020). Farming operations will utilise building three from spring 2020.

FarmED’s mission is to accelerate the transition towards regenerative farming and sustainable food systems by providing space and opportunity for inspirational education, innovative research, practitioner-led knowledge exchange events, and personal development. The space can be hired for a meetings, conferences, workshops or special events, and you can visit for a farm walk and talk, or join the FarmED Programme: Regenerative Agriculture and Sustainable Food (being developed for launch in summer 2020). More info at https://www.farm-ed.co.uk/ 


Andy Parsons takes up Chief Executive role

 

Andy Parsons takes up the role of Chief Executive at the Cotswolds Conservation Board this month.

Andy has an interesting background in both business and charity – he comes to the Board from his role as Chief Executive at the South West Lakes Trust, where he had been since 2015. Before that, he was at Severn Trent Water. His previous non-executive roles include Chairman at Visit Exmoor, Vice-Chairman at Cornwall Sports Partnership and Management Board member of the Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group. He has also been a Secretary of State appointed member of the Cotswolds Conservation Board since August 2018.

Andy says, “For the last 12 years of my career, I’ve been working to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from health-giving experiences in the great outdoors. I moved to the Cotswolds in 2012 with my family and, since then, I have grown to treasure the special and unique qualities that this area has to offer – from its fascinating built heritage, to its unspoilt open countryside and woodlands. This is a very exciting time to be joining the Cotswolds Conservation Board, with the publication of the Glover Landscapes Review in September and the positive changes proposed to ensure all our national landscapes are fit for the future. The proposal that the Cotswolds should be considered as a candidate for National Park status is particularly exciting, and I hope to help the Board rise to the opportunities and challenges it faces in the years ahead.”

Elizabeth Eyre, Cotswolds Conservation Board Chairman, said, “We’re delighted to welcome Andy to the Cotswolds Conservation Board, and we’re looking forward to supporting him and the team to realise our ambitious plans for the AONB. We are already confident he will make a big difference to our future plans.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • 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

CCB urges Highways England to improve plans for A417 Missing Link

Following Highways England’s six week public consultation period which closed on 8th November, the Cotswolds Conservation Board has submitted a detailed response which actively supports the need for improvements to this busy and problematic stretch of road; but which also urges Highways England to continue to work with the Board on its recommendations, which could further improve the proposed works – so that any new route would be as originally conceived: a truly ‘landscape-led’ design which would benefit road users and further reduce the adverse effects – and increase the beneficial effects – on wildlife and the local landscape.

As the entire stretch of proposed new route lies within the boundaries of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Conservation Board is working with Highways England and other conservation bodies to ensure that proposed improvements to the A417 Missing Link are genuinely ‘landscape-led’.

In its consultation response, the Board has worked to identify and highlight priority recommendations for Highways England as follows:

  1. That Highways England should conduct a comprehensive and quantitative assessment of the overall balance of adverse and beneficial effects for the Cotswolds AONB.
  2. That it should give further consideration to the potential benefits and viability of a ‘cut-and-cover’ ‘tunnel’ option, instead of the 25 metre deep and 1 kilometre long open cutting with a green bridge which is currently proposed.Calculations made by the Board show the cut-and-cover option would be overall at a comparative cost of the current proposal, but with the addition of many more benefits for the environment – including creating a greater habitat area for wildlife; reduced noise, air, and light pollution; retained woodland; a reduction in the area of land affected by a new scheme; increased tranquillity; an enhanced experience of walking the Cotswold Way National Trail; and a significant reduction in excavated and relocated material.
  3. Give further consideration to alternatives to relocating excavated material from the proposed new route to the head of the Upper Churn Valley at Shab Hill Junction, and to the adverse effects of excavating and disposing of large volumes of excavated materials on site.Current proposals could potentially involve a quantity of excavated material the equivalent of 10 times the volume of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Current plans include relocating a proportion of this to the proposed Shab Hill junction – which is currently an area of precious calcareous grassland – an important priority habitat for a number of plant and wildlife species. The Board’s alternative suggestions would significantly reduce the volume of excavated material and the volume of material that needs to be disposed of elsewhere, therefore lessening the impact on the surrounding landscape.

The Board fully appreciates the restrictions placed on Highways England in relation to the scheme’s budget. Its suggested recommendations have been made with the aim of them being implemented at overall comparative costs. The Board remains committed to continuing to work closely and constructively with Highways England to achieve the jointly agreed landscape-led vision, design principles, and objectives for any solution – which were agreed with Highways England in 2017.

The recent issues Landscapes Review of National Parks and AONBs, which was commissioned by government, 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.

Liz Eyre, Chairman of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, said, “We’re pleased to be working with Highways England. The need for this stretch of road to be improved is undeniable.  Addressing the safety of the road, along with delays, traffic flow, and congestion is important for our region. As an organisation whose statutory duty is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Cotswolds, we have responded to the proposed A417 Missing Link plans responsibly making a number of costed and considered recommendations which could deliver a number of significant further improvements, ensuring even more that the scheme is truly as far as possible landscape-led.

These improvements would limit the adverse effect on our beautiful and internationally-recognised landscape, at the same time as offering genuine benefits for all those affected by the proposed new route. We hope that Highways England will give full consideration to these recommendations, and continue an open dialogue with us and other local conservation organisations in order to deliver a solution that works well for everyone, and for decades to come.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • 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