AONB dry stone walling volunteer tasks – the AONB Unit has run two sessions in August with two more to follow in September. All the days booked up at least a month in advance. Working with local stone-waller, Tracy Reynolds, and the local landowner the groups are repairing 30 metres of wall near the A39 near a popular public right of way, just outside of Wells. The days are being run to promote volunteering with the Mendip AONB Unit on a more regular basis. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/volunteering/
The next Mendip Hills AONB Partnership meeting takes place on 28th September at 10.00am at Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Offices at Callow Rock.
There will be a presentation by Natural England on the Mendip Hills Natural Character Area that includes the AONB.
The AONB Partnership Annual Forum follows on Thursday 10th November 9.30am -2pm at Avon Wildlife Trust’s Folly Farm, Nr Bishop Sutton. Come and find out how a well managed landscape adds value to land based businesses.
Both are open to the public with bookings required for the Forum. Agenda and further details will be available on our web site in September and October.
Natural England’s Natural Leaders programme is already making an impact in the West of England. Four unitary authorities in the West of England have agreed an action plan for the natural environment. A ‘memorandum of understanding’ (MOU) has been signed by the West of England Partnership authorities (Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bristol City Councils) with Natural England and the Environment Agency. This is important because it states a commitment on all the parties involved to deliver sustainable economic growth in ways which protect and enhance the environment. The partnership has set out 4 positive outcomes for the natural environment which they are hoping to achieve:
• Biodiversity and the diverse and distinctive landscape character across the West of England and beyond is protected and enhanced
• At the local level the causes of climate change are mitigated and adaptations made
• Natural resources are used wisely, and waste is minimised and managed sustainably
• Business and communities are more aware of high quality design in new development
Gateways to the AONB – with demand for AONB visitor publications, AONB signage in parishes and the loss of local tourist information centres, the AONB Unit is producing and installing visitor information boards at key locations, and will be promoting to parish/town councils village entry signage with the AONB logo and restoration of cast iron finger posts. Funding will be available to assist parishes with this work.
Strawberry Line draft management plan 2011-2015 – North Somerset Council is consulting on the plan priorities and actions. The AONB Sustainable Development Fund has provided grants totalling £60,000 for Strawberry Line related projects since 2005 and the Partnership supports the aspiration to extend the line from Cheddar to Wells. Deadline for comments is 18 Nov 2011. The results will be published by 18 May 2012. See http://consult.n-somerset.gov.uk/consult.ti/straw11/consultationHome
The AONB Unit’s Planning Liaison Officer has been in contact with Mendip District Council regarding a large and highly intrusive advertisement sign for a development at Street which has been erected adjacent to the highway just beyond Harptree Hill, near West Harptree. The Council’s Enforcement Officer has confirmed that action is being taken to secure the immediate removal of the sign.
The AONB has submitted an application for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £195,500 for the Discovering Black Down Project. The project aims to work with local communities and user groups to achieve well managed and sustainable access to the Burrington Commons, and help people discover the areas rich heritage. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/projects/
On 21 August a group of AONB Advanced Young Rangers met a visiting group of young people from the Isles of Scilly on an activity day in and around Cheddar. The two groups of young people shared their experiences of two very different AONBs while visiting the Cheddar caves and exploring the gorge. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/2011/08/25/isles-of-scilly-visit-the-mendip-hills-aonb/
In September a new group of 15 AONB Young Rangers will begin their 2-year programme with a welcome evening shortly followed by their first full activity day out on the hills. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/young-rangers/
A team of 6 AONB Volunteer Rangers joined Project Officer Andy Mallender to represent the AONB at Bristol Water’s “Wild About Chew 2” event on 20 August. There was a lot of interest in our stand, from local people and visitors to the area. It was a good chance for people to find out about the work of the AONB Partnership. http://www.bristolwater.co.uk/news/mainNews.asp?newsID=896
The Bristol Water event was also a good opportunity to promote the Hawk and Owl Trust Spotters Guide which has been produced with funding from the AONB Sustainable Development Fund. This pocket sized guide includes water colour paintings to help people identify owls and birds of prey along with an easy way to submit sightings via text, email or phone call. http://www.hawkandowl.org