Email Update April 2011

 Richard Benyon, Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries on a visit to South Devon AONB on 4th April the Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to AONBs and the adoption of a new national memorandum of understanding jointly by Defra, Natural England and the National Association of AONBs. The parties will work together to ensure that the natural beauty of AONBs is conserved, enhanced and promoted for the benefit of all.

From 1st April Defra will provide funding directly to AONB services and be the principal sponsor.

A copy of a Press Release from the NAAONB can be found at the end of this email update.

About the NAAONB The NAAONB is an influential, trusted organisation that is seen as the mouthpiece for the AONB Family. It harnesses the collective experience, enthusiasm and goodwill of the family and uses it to further our collective cause – to conserve and enhance the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Further information

New AONB Partnership Memorandum of Agreement template has been received from DEFRA for the funding partners to consider and agree. The MOA ‘provides a framework for the duties and obligations arising from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 including the operation and management of an AONB Partnership, a staff unit to act on behalf of the Partnership and the publishing, reviewing and monitoring of the Management Plan’.

The Sustainable Development Funds first deadline for applications is the 16th May. This year, due to reduced funding, the Panel are prioritising projects that demonstrate strong community support and volunteering. The maximum grant is £5000 with applications for smaller grants encouraged as it is hoped to assist a wide variety of projects across the AONB.

Mendip District Council Draft Core Strategy has recently been the subject of public consultation. The AONB Unit response may be seen via the following link, under the heading ‘Strategic Planning Consultation Responses’.

Traffic speed controls in Priddy are due to be considered again by the Parish Council after the issue was raised by some residents. The AONB Unit has offered advice on approaches to managing traffic in protected landscapes and also potential support for a project to provide village entry signs indicating that the village is within the Mendip Hills AONB.

Nempnett Thrubwell Parish Council and the local community have been supported by the AONB Unit in raising concerns over the damaging impact of a site near Butcombe used under temporary planning consent for equestrian stabling with other outbuildings/structures. This is in response to Bath & North East Somerset Council considering an application for permanent permission (ref. no. 10/05014/FUL). Further details via B&NES website:

The Pound, Rodney Stoke – During April, the Parish Council are restoring the lime mortared walls of The Pound. The walling work has been led by Woodlouse Conservation who are training local volunteers as part of the project. The AONB Sustainable Development Fund provided a grant for the work.

Two of the AONB Young Rangers are off to the International Junior Ranger Camp in Weerribben- Wieden National Park in the Netherlands 16-23rd July 2011 with Andy Mallender, AONB Project Officer as their mentor. The camp provides the opportunity for young rangers from all over Europe to meet and exchange ideas. Last year the Mendip Hills AONB hosted the camp.

New oak signage has been installed to sign post gateways and Public Rights of Way on Black Down and Burrington Commons as part of the Black Down Project. The work has been funded by the AONB Sustainable Development Fund and Natural England’s Access Grant scheme.

Minister announces renewed government commitment to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Richard Benyon Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries visited the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on Monday 4th April to make an announcement which confirms government backing for England’s 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Minister made the announcement at Berry Head National Nature Reserve, just outside Brixham, a stunning coastal location and internationally-acclaimed heritage site set within the South Devon AONB.

From April 1st 2011 the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is taking over the direct funding of AONBs through a new tripartite agreement between DEFRA, Natural England and National Association for AONBs. This transfer of sponsorship represents a new era for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, confirming them as valued members of the UK’s protected landscape family.

By the change of sponsorship, Her Majesty’s coalition government is acknowledging that AONBs are strategic national assets and that local AONB partnerships are key players in managing positive landscape change.

Richard Benyon said “We need AONBs to ensure that our most important and treasured landscapes continue to thrive and are enjoyed by future generations. They are crucial to our environmental objectives. To help AONBs deliver those objectives, today marks the transfer of their national sponsorship from Natural England to Defra and a new agreement between Defra, Natural England and the National Association for AONBs. This is a new era for AONBs, and a new partnership that can unlock the full potential of our greatest resource – the people that care passionately about these areas”. 

Peter Stevens, Chairman of the National Association for AONBs commented    “Today marks a step-change for the AONB Family. Working closer to government, supported by local authorities, AONBs have been given a renewed confidence in their partnership approach to delivering on the ground. The new relationship with DEFRA and Natural England will ensure that our AONBs continue to have special relevance to those that live in within them, work within them and visit them”. 


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