Email Update February 2011

 National Association of AONBs (NAAONB) has been keeping members informed of the new funding arrangements for AONBs and monitoring the situation with regard local authority funding contributions for individual AONBs for 2011/12. Cllr Dawn Hill, Mendip Hills AONB Partnership Chairman attended the NAAONB meeting in the SW on 1st February and Sarah Jackson AONB Manager has attended the national lead officers meeting on 9th/10th February. Both meetings contributed to drafting of the NAAONB business plan that will include work to assist AONBs become less dependent on exchequer funding. www.aonb.org.uk/

Mendip Hills AONB funding for 2011/12 is expected to be £231670. This is a grant of £181052 from Defra and contributions totalling £50618 from the 5 local authority partners. This is £50663 less than in 2010/11 with local authority cuts ranging from 20% to a 100% cut proposed by North Somerset Council. The reduction will be managed by reducing the core costs and the sum available for SDF grants. The draft Delivery Plan and budget for 2011/12 will be presented to the Partnership Committee on 16th March 2011 at Draycott Village Hall 10.00am. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/partnership-committee/

14 of the 28 AONB Parish Councils have responded to the letter seeking contributions to assist projects in the AONB Delivery Plan 2011/12. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/up_103913_delivery_plan_2010-11_updated_may.pdf
Partnership parish representatives have been supporting the AONB Manager in liaising with the parish councils in terms of requests for further information and attending meetings. A total of £900 has been received or pledged to date from Ubley, Rodney Stoke, Cheddar and Compton Martin. A number of parishes are writing to their local authority to urge that they continue to support the AONB Partnership financially.

The new Mendip Hills AONB Futures Working Group has met to consider new ways of operating with reduced funding to meet environmental objectives of the AONB Partnership but also to consider new opportunities to further deliver the Big Society agenda. An update on the work of this group will be reported to the Partnership Committee on 16th March.

Conserving Black Down Project
The next phase of work on Black Down is underway with preparations for stone pitching to protect the Beacon Batch Barrow around the trig point.  The Barrow, which forms part of a larger Scheduled Monument designated by English Heritage has been eroded by increasing numbers of visitors.
The stone pitching will use local walling stone to create a durable surface around the trig.point which is in keeping with the open and rural appearance of the area.  The work will protect the archaeology of the site while providing sustainable access the trig point for visitors to enjoy the far reaching views. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/2011/02/24/conserving-black-down-project/

 Funding bid for a Young Rangers and Young Volunteers Project
The AONB Unit is working in partnership with the Goblin Combe Environment Centre to apply for Lottery Funding to develop a larger Young Rangers and Young Volunteers programme.  The application to the Young Roots grant scheme is to run 2 Young Ranger Groups along with Advanced Young Rangers and a new Young Volunteers scheme.  The project would enable more young people from a wider area to benefit from the scheme, work with a range of AONB partner organisations and gain vocational qualifications. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/young-rangers/

The NAAONBs is currently responding to a considerable number of important consultations and the AONB Planning Liaison Officer has been reviewing these and contributing where appropriate. The consultations include National Grid’s Under grounding Policy review and the National Planning Policy Framework.
 
For further details see http://www.southwestlandscapes.org.uk/Consultations.asp
 
The landscape and biodiversity impacts of Solar PV ‘farms’ is becoming an increasingly significant issue for protected landscapes. In terms of the Mendip Hills, the AONB Unit is aware of only one informal approach from a landowner within the designated area. However, there have been a number of potential schemes identified by companies for land just outside where views to and from the AONB could be adversely affected. The AONB Planning Liaison Officer has been liaising with Natural England regarding responses to these proposals and, where we have concerns, the local authorities have been advised that an Environmental Impact Assessment would be advisable if planning applications are submitted. For further information contact jrichards@somerset.gov.uk

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