The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership

What Does The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership Do?

The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership brings together organisations and interests and provides a strategic and co-ordinated lead to the protection and enhancement of the AONB.

The AONB Partnership provides effective long-term management to keep the Mendip Hills AONB special.

The Value of AONB Partnerships’ report by Land Use Consultants was commissioned by the National Association for AONBs (NAAONB). The NAAONB is using this document to support discussions with Government regarding future funding for AONBs. Value of AONB Partnerships’ Report (PDF Download 470KB).

In June 2015 the NAAONB and National Parks England published ‘So much more than the view’ (PDF Download 6MB) highlighting the wide range of benefits AONBs and NPs provide to society.

Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan 2014-2019 Review

Following the recent review of the current plan we are now in the process of compiling a draft plan for 2019-2024.  This will be agreed by the AONB Partnership and formally consulted on at the end of November.

The management plan identifies what is necessary to conserve and enhance this special landscape. The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership leads on the production and review of the Management Plan for the local authorities.

As required by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (the CRoW Act) the local authorities have a statutory responsibility to review the AONB Management Plan every five years. The Management Plan 2014-19 and Delivery Plan have been adopted by the five local authorities.

The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership, consisting of the local authorities, Natural England, other organisations with a land management responsibility such as Somerset and Avon Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, together with parish councils and other interested groups lead on the Management Plan review for the local authorities.

The Mendip Hills AONB is required to assess the Management Plan through the Habitats Regulations Assessment process as policies in the plan can potentially affect Natura 2000 sites.

Working with Others

Living Landscape projects – both Somerset Wildlife Trust and Avon Wildlife Trust have landscape scale projects to rebuild biodiversity.

Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Mendip Hills Living Landscape project is working to restore, recreate and reconnect wildlife habitats across this beautiful working landscape. We need to do this because the habitat our wildlife depends on has become fragmented leaving stranded pockets of wildlife vulnerable to changing conditions such as intensification of land management and climate change.

Avon Wildlife Trust’s – Avon’s Wildflower Grasslands Project set up in 2008 began the long process of restoring wildflower grasslands. The loss of 97% of the UKs wildflower rich grasslands has had a significant impact on bee and butterfly populations.

Avon Wildlife Trust is a partner in the West of England B- lines project – B-Lines are wide strips of permanent wildflower-rich habitats that link existing wildlife areas together to create a network of habitats. The project will map out a network of potential B-Lines, support landowners and communities in creating new B-Lines, and practically restore wildflower-rich areas. Through our work in Avon, we will be contributing to a national pollinator network that will weave across the British countryside and through our towns and cities.

The Mendip Ponds Project is being undertaken by the Reptile and Amphibian Group for Somerset in partnership with the Mendip Hills AONB Unit and Somerset Wildlife Trust. The project aims to restore a network of ponds in the AONB to expand and connect a number of isolated subpopulations of crested newts. Project Proposal  (PDF download 3MB)

Local Nature Partnerships – the Mendip Hills AONB is a member of the West of England Nature Partnership and Somerset Local Nature Partnership.

Somerset Local Nature Partnership (SLNP) seeks to maintain and enhance the scale and quality of the counties habitats so that they remain special into the future. It wants to make sure that everyone can enjoy nature, wherever they live and to show how supporting nature is good for business and communities.

West of England Nature Partnership seeks to effectively manage the areas natural resources and ensures they are healthy enough to provide critical services into the future, continuing to ensure that the West of England is an area in which people will want to live, work and spend time in.

Staff Unit

The work of the AONB Partnership is supported by the employment of a small AONB Staff Unit, which is based at Charterhouse Centre. The work of the unit is guided by national AONB Core Functions. The primary purpose of the AONB Staff Unit is:

To provide a strategic, independent unit dedicated to the conservation and enhancement of the Mendip Hills AONB.

To co-ordinate and drive the implementation of the AONB Management Plan.

Who’s in the unit?

AONB ManagerJim Hardcastle
AONB Project Development Officer – Vacant
AONB Planning Liaison OfficerCindy Carter (Part-Time)
AONB Volunteer Coordinator (Tues/Wed)Sammy Fraser (Part-Time)
AONB Support & Communications OfficerSarah Catling (Part-Time)

Core Functions

a) Developing reviewing, preparing and publishing the AONB vision and the AONB Management Plan

b) Raising awareness of the AONB, and promoting the AONB vision and the management plan to help distinguish the AONB from adjacent countryside

c) Advising upon, facilitating and coordinating implementation by others of the Management Plan

d) Advising Local Authorities on their activities within  AONBs, to encourage them to go beyond normal levels of service to attain the highest possible standards in countryside management

e) Monitoring and reporting on progress against AONB Management Plan targets

f) Monitoring AONB landscape condition

g) Accessing resources for management activities

h) Working with and contributing to the NAAONB activities. Participating in and promoting joint working between AONBs and across protected landscapes family.

i) Providing a management role to co-ordinate AONB protection through the actions of the AONB unit, the AONB partnership and other partners at a local and strategic level.

j) Developing an involvement by the community in the management of the AONB

k)  Providing  landscape related planning advice

The specialist staff unit aims to:



Things happen, translating vision and national policy into local action.


With local communities to foster their skills, knowledge, and energy.



Value for money by securing additional funding, resources and project partners.


Innovative approaches to deliver real results through genuine collaboration.


Sustainable rural growth, levering in a variety of income to protect and enhance the natural environment for the benefit of society and the economy.

The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership Committee

A key item for the Partnership meetings is the Partnerships Annual Delivery Plan.

The Partnership through the Mendip Hills AONB Unit coordinates a number of working groups to advise and develop initiatives in the AONB. Currently, there is Mendip Rocks! and the Mendip Hills Fund Advisory Panel.

AONB staff also contribute to the work of the West of England Local Nature Partnership and Somerset Local Nature Partnership both of which are currently considering locally determined Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) that include a potential Mendip Hills NIA.

Partnership Documents

Management Plan 2014-19 (PDF Download 7MB)

Communication Plan 2014-18 (PDF Download 450KB)

Terms of Reference 2018-21 (PDF Download 139KB)

Business Plan 2018-21 (PDF Download 485KB)

NAAONB Documents

National Grid Press Release

NAAONB Communication Strategy 2014-19 (PDF Download 550KB)


Next Partnership Committee Meeting Thursday 22nd November 2018

Venue:  TBC

Agenda: To follow

Meeting Papers

  • To follow

Meeting Minutes




If you would like a copy of previous minutes please contact us.