Mendip Hills AONB Partnership Committee concerns regarding Longleat Estates visitor attraction proposals for Cheddar Gorge.
The AONB Partnership meeting held on Thursday 28th June raised major concerns about Longleat Estate’s current ideas for new visitor attractions at Cheddar Gorge that include a cable car, an education/visitor centre and viewing area at the top of the Gorge.
The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership agreed a position statement, regarding the Longleat Estate proposals, stating that Cheddar Gorge is one of the most iconic landscape features of the Mendip Hills AONB and confirming that its protection is a key priority.
The AONB Management Plan 2009-2014 states that for any proposed development it should enhance the distinctive character of the location, avoid damaging visual intrusions in to the landscape and incorporate designs and landscaping consistent with these requirements’, also ‘maintain or improve the existing level of tranquillity and dark skies’ and ‘protect and where possible enhance biodiversity’.
The Partnership Committee considers that it would be impossible for Longleat Estates current proposals to be implemented with out changing the landscape character of the lower and upper Gorge and detracting from its natural beauty.
The Partnership Committee statement supports the recent National Trust statement regarding the cable car proposal accepting that a cable car would change the natural beauty of the lower Gorge and therefore is not compatible with the aims or designation of the AONB. The full statement is available on www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/planning
The AONB Partnership Committee is the body responsible for co-ordinating the conservation and enhancement of the nationally designated AONB and the implementation of the statutory Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan 2009 – 2014.
 National Trust position statement:
‘After detailed consideration the Trust has decided it cannot support the concept for a cable car in Cheddar Gorge. The National Trust was established to protect areas of natural beauty for the benefit of the nation. A cable car would undoubtedly change the natural beauty of the lower end of the Gorge and we do not feel that the public benefit would out weigh the landscape importance valued by so many people. Specifically, it would set a national precedent if we allowed the cable cars to travel through our air space along side the iconic Lion Rock. The Trust is also a member of the Mendip Hills AONB Partnership and we are signed up to the Statutory Management Plan. We do not believe a cable car is compatible with the aims or designation of the AONB.’