Welcome to the April 2015 E-Bulletin
The Stepping Stones Project
The Stepping Stones Project was initiated in partnership with North Wessex Downs AONB and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. An application was made to Natural England, the government’s nature conservation body, for £105,658.41 over 3 years.
- To connect areas of high quality chalk grassland habitat around Salisbury Plain by creating ‘stepping stones’ between them, allowing animals like butterflies and beetles to successfully colonise new areas.
- To enhance areas adjacent to high quality sites: buffering valuable habitat so that populations of chalk grassland insects and plants can grow.
- To include and involve a large number of local volunteers in growing and planting plug plants to enhance species-poor areas.
We worked with 28 farmers on the Pewsey Downs and West Wiltshire Downs, creating or improving 344 hectares of chalk grassland. The project levered in about £60,000 of cash and in-kind support. Voluntary participants included school children from Pewsey Primary and the WildlifeTrust’s Wellbeing Group.
Recently, we provided £1,500 to the Chilmark Horticultural Society to carry on this work in South Wiltshire. We will use the polytunnel at Manora to produce a large number of chalk grassland plants that can be planted out in the spring of 2016.
You can easily get involved in sowing seeds, potting on plants and looking after them. In particular, we need people to help water the plants over the summer. Also, we need some big watering cans with rose sprinklers and as many 4” and 3” plastic plants pots as we can get our hands on. Can you donate or lend them to us?
Volunteer to help sow seeds on Sunday 12th April. We will meet at the polytunnel, 10am till 12pm, but you do not have to stay for the whole 2 hours. For more details, contact David Blake on 01722 717537 or email:email@example.com
See: http://tiny.cc/huxcwx for more info, and the area map.
Winterborne Whitechurch Wind Farm Refusal
We consulted on the proposal to erect up to 4 giant sized Wind Turbines on Blandford Hill, next to Winterborne Whitechurch - each at 125 metres in height (2 metres higher than Salisbury Cathedral Spire). Our visualisation software enabled us to carry out an assessment of the impact on views from this AONB to the Dorset AONB.
After 16 months of uncertainty, a decision to "Refuse" the Application has now been taken by the Development Management Committee (DMC) of North Dorset District Council (NDDC).
The NDDC Case Officer had recommended "Refusal" in his comprehensive and cogent Report - and the 7 Committee Members voted 4 to 2 accordingly (with no Chairman vote required).
Find out more: http://tiny.cc/8xxcwx
Save The Drovers Inn
'Save the Drovers' action group has secured 'an asset of community value listing' for the pub at Gussage All Saints. The Change of Use planning application is still outstanding - a decision should be made on the 7th April.
We supported the group by helping with information on forming and funding community projects, and the sustainable tourism initiatives set out in our AONB Management Plan match those of the Drovers Inn for increasing sustainable tourism in the area.
Ministers on the 26th January announced they will change the law to provide even greater protection for pubs which play a crucial role at the heart of our communities.
This action will stop valued community pubs from being demolished or converted into different uses against the will of local people. See http://tiny.cc/q0xcwx for more on this change in law.
The Plunkett Foundation is a charity that has supported rural communities for 100 years, and their recent seminar provided valuable information from people who had successfully saved their pubs that are now thriving because the community have a personal interest.
The next open meeting at Gussage All Saints Village Hall is on Monday 13 April 7:00pm
Find out more on the Save The Drovers website.
We have now had six applications to become a trustee to the new Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). We look forward to working with the first trustees to help set up the charity. Watch this space!
Social Media Training Workshop
On the 25th February Harry Bell our GIS and Communications expert carried out a Social Media Workshop at Broadchalke Sports Centre in conjunction with Rachel Limb of White Sheep Projects. This free event was to support local tourism and leisure businesses. The workshop included:
- Making the most of your website
- Exploring best practice in website design
- Getting your website noticed
- Climbing the search engine rankings
- Using social media
Thank you to everyone that attended what turned out to be a very useful discussion and networking event. Please see the article below to fill out an online survey relating to how the AONB can support your business training needs.
Training Needs for Tourism & Leisure Businesses in the AONB
Calling all tourism and leisure based businesses - we would really appreciate your assistance with an online survey we are running to find out what the priorities are for training. If we can better understand what businesses most require it will enable us to submit robust funding bids to enable the AONB to provide such training in the future.
It is only a short, mainly ‘tick-box’ survey that will take about 5 minutes of your time, so please do let us have your views. Simply click on this link to access the survey:
Your Questions Answered
Each e-bulletin we'll be answering your questions about the AONB - please email them in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to answer them here!
Q. What is Natural Beauty?
A. The primary purpose of AONB designation is rooted in natural beauty. The term was enshrined in the 1949 Act when a romantic idea of scenic value still prevailed.
Over the years qualification and amendment to the legislation has made it clear that natural beauty includes considerations such as wildlife, geological features and cultural heritage.
Government guidance relating to AONBs provides a useful non-technical definition: ‘“Natural Beauty” is not just the look of the landscape, but includes landform and geology, plants and animals, landscape features and the rich history of human settlement over the centuries’.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 clarified that the fact that land is used for agriculture, or woodlands, or as a park, or that its physiographical features are partly the product of human intervention in the landscape does not prevent it from being treated as naturally beautiful.
Funding & Grants
Forestry Comission Grants
The new woodland capital grants are now open for applications. They cover three areas:
- Woodland Creation - Deadline for 1st stage application: 30th April 2015
Areas to be planted must be over 3ha. Smaller blocks over 1ha might be considered where it would improve water quality or flood risk. Some woodland managers will then be able to apply for a 10 year maintenance plan under Countryside Stewardship.
- Woodland Management Plan - Deadline: 30th June 2015
This is essential for future applications if you wish to apply for Countryside Stewardship or Countryside Productivity Schemes (in certain situations) and will also be needed for any EWGS first claims after 1st April 2015 and any EWGS claims after the first of January 2016, except for creation. You need to use the FC management plan template and have over 3ha of woodland on your holding in order to receive a grant. There is a minimum grant of £1000. There is also an unfunded small management template, that can be used for any woodlands under 10 hectares.
- Plant Health - Deadline: 30th June 2015
There are grants to remove diseased plants and to restock. These are available to people who have already had a Statutory Plant Health Notice (SPHN) or who have had Chalara confirmed on their holding.
You can find the latest information on the Defra website. There is also further information on the AONB Blog at: http://tiny.cc/69ycwx
Wessex Water Grid Community Awards
Do you have an environmental project that could do with a helping hand?
The scheme will contribute a total of £20,000 to wildlife and conservation projects through numerous small grants, with maximum funding of £2,000.
It is open to communities affected by the work to install a new pipeline and groups and charities are all invited to apply.
To find out more, see: http://tiny.cc/tbzcwx
To stay informed about all grants available to businesses and communities in the AONB, subscribe to our free weekly blog updates - all grant & funding updates go on there - it's all combined into a single email per week: http://tiny.cc/wczcwx
CEPM Social Forestry Final Workshop
Sharing, learning, and looking ahead to the future of woodland-based social action:
Date: Thursday 23rd April 2015
Time: 10.15 – 15.00
Venue: Wyre Forest Discovery Centre
Nearest train station is Kidderminster. Trains from Kidderminster can be met if notified. If people need details of local accommodation, camping facilities etc. please contact Tim Selman on email@example.com
This final workshop event provides our CEPM partners with a platform for sharing learning from the 12 month peer-to-peer mentoring project exploring the needs and opportunities of supporting woodland social action.
The workshop will explore and evaluate the activities of the CEPM partners and look ahead to explore how best to support woodland social enterprises in the coming years.
By the end of the event participants will have better understanding of
- what our CEPM Partners achieved and learning relevant to others interested in woodland social action,
- the evaluation outcomes from our peer-to-peer mentoring programme, and
- the future direction of woodland social enterprise and the drivers required to provide appropriate support and development.
Download PDF with full details at: http://tiny.cc/zlzcwx
Cost: £50 NAAONB members, £75 Non Members
Maximum number of participants: 50
Book for this final event on Eventbrite.
See more about our social forestry work: http://tiny.cc/rjzcwx
National Plant Monitoring Scheme
The scheme is the first of its kind and asks for volunteers across the United Kingdom to visit a kilometre square local to them and record the plants they find there in several different plots.
The scheme will enable us to explore how plants in different habitats are responding to changes in the environment.
There are a number of ‘vacant’ squares for volunteers to allocate themselves to within NNRs (one within the Cranborne Chase AONB at Moor Crichel) - see online map for details.
For more information visit: www.npms.org.uk.
Stepping Stones - Sowing Seeds Volunteers - 12th April
Volunteer to help us sow seeds on Sunday 12th April. We will meet at the polytunnel at at Manora (near Chilmark) 10am till 12pm, but you do not have to stay for the whole 2 hours. For more details, contact David Blake on 01722 717537 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Landscape and Visual Impacts of Renewable Energy - 15th April
Richard Burden, AONB Landscape and Planning Advisor will be giving a presentation at the Dorset CPRE AGM at Clayesmore School on 15th April at 5pm.
Landscape and visual impacts of renewable energy - Photovoltaic parks and Wind Turbines will be covered. To attend, you need to be a member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England - see the CPRE website for details. If you would like a copy of the presentation, please email us.
Deverills Mini-Fest - 2nd & 3rd May
Saturday 2 May: the brilliant Kepow! Theatre returns to perform their new show On the Edge! in The Barn at Kingston Deverill, 7.30pm. £10 Adults / £5 Under-17s
Sunday 3 May: Bath Philharmonia Wind Ensemble with Jacquelyn Bevan, piano, in Kingston Deverill Church, 7.30pm. Programme includes Mozart and Beethoven quintets. £15 Adults / £7.50 Under-17s
Plus accompanying events including:
Walk and talk with David Stratton - Celebrating 150 years of farming in Kingston Deverill (2 May, The Barn Theatre, Kingston Deverill, 11am, £5)
The Langport Mummers’ St George and The Black Knight - gripping tale, frivolity, music and general hilarity for all. Traditional mumming with a contemporary twist. (3 May, The George Inn, Longbridge Deverill, 3pm, Donations)
Tickets and information: t: 01985 844385 | e:email@example.com | deverillsfestival.com
Tisbury Brocante - 4th May
Antiques, collectibles, curios + a street market Monday May 4th 10am- 4pm
Tisbury will be the setting for 'The Great Tisbury Brocante' - a festival of antiques and vintage finds, involving the whole village on bank holiday Monday .This is a new venture where stalls will be around the entire town ranging from top end antiques to locals clearing a garage - so something for every pocket and interest.
Tisbury Recreation Ground (SP3 6JR) and all over the village.
The Heart of Wessex LAG Launch Event - 17th June
Wednesday 17th June 2015 - 6.30pm, Cheese & Grain, Frome Market Yard, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BE
The Heart of Wessex Local Action Group (LAG) has recently secured £1.74m through the Rural Development Programme for England to invest in projects that directly support the rural economy in the LAG area. A map of the area covered can be found here: http://tiny.cc/h4zcwx.
Hear how the programme works, how you can get involved through the Local Action Group and help decide where the money is invested, and how projects can apply for funding.
The LAG will be fully "open for business" after the General Election and the first call for project applications is expected in June. However, we are keen to hear from anyone who has a project idea and would like to find out if it would be eligible for funding.
Book for this event on Eventbrite.
More Information: t: 07826 907361 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org | heartofwessex.co.uk
Bird of the Month
This month we have the Little and Great White Egret as 'birds' of the month!
The little egret is a small white heron with attractive white plumes on crest, back and chest, black legs and bill and yellow feet. It first appeared in the UK in significant numbers in 1989 and first bred in Dorset in 1996.
Its colonization followed naturally from a range expansion intro western and northern France in previous decades. It is now at home on numerous south coast sites, both as a breeding species and as a winter visitor.
Great white egrets can look similar to little egrets, but they are much larger - the same size as the familiar grey heron.
Other identification features to look out for include black feet (not yellow), yellow beak (in juvenile and non-breeding plumage), and a different fishing technique like that of the grey heron.
Images courtesy of the RSPB.
Business of the Month
Rockbourne Trout Fishery
Rockbourne Trout Fishery is located in the New Forest just on the edge of the picturesque village of Rockbourne.
The six lakes are spread over 55 acres of unspoilt woodland and pasture land with the river Sweatford Waters running through the valley and on into the Avon.
The lower reaches of the river are in the AONB and indeed Rockbourne is one of the most peaceful, secluded and beautiful spots to fly fish in the country.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget the: