North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural BeautyNorth Wessex Downs Area of OutstandingNatural Beauty Review 2004 - 2005October 2005•Prepared on behalf of the Council of Partners
Confidenceand CommitmentThe activities in the year under review inthis document show the confidence andcommitment of the Council of Partnersin delivering the AONB ManagementPlan.Writing, discussing, agreeing and finally adoptingthe Plan required confidence and commitment: theconfidence to agree collectively to a vision for theNorth Wessex Downs that all stakeholders couldaccept, and the commitment actually to do all thework necessary to carry out the actions in the Plan.The members of the Council of Partners have risento this challenge. This review includes examples ofhow we are working together to deliver the sharedvision for the AONB.We have limited money and a small managementteam, so the support of the Council of Partners,along with other individuals and organisations, willcontinue to be crucial to the achievement of thatshared vision.All of us on the management team are grateful forthe support we have been given so far, and we lookforward to playing our full part as the Partnershipgoes forward.Richard Clarke, Director of the North WessexDowns AONBChairman’s ReportMy predecessor, Martin Spray, handed over to me on 1st April 2004. I would liketo thank him most warmly on behalf of the Council of Partners for playing suchan important part in establishing our management structure and producing ourwidely-praised Management Plan, which was launched formally in May 2004.Creating the Management Plan was difficult enough; putting it into practice is even harder, althoughmuch progress has already been made, as this Review shows. Perhaps the hardest task is makingorganisations and individuals within the AONB aware of our existence and our aims, and consciousof the vital importance of giving us their active support in implementing the Plan. To give oneSir Charles Nunneleyexample, it has proved remarkably difficult to persuade other parties to let us know what work theyhave already done, or have in progress, which contributes towards the achievement of our objectives.There is no way in which the small AONB management team, with its limited resources, can do everything on its own. I hope thatall those who live and work in the North Wessex Downs will recognise the value of the AONB and will be prepared to help us.A recent development, which should encourage that co-operation, is the creation of the Sustainable Development Fund (seepage 9). The Fund, which comes from Defra via the Countryside Agency, provides a substantial part of the funding for projectsproposed by organisations of any kind, large or small, which help the AONB to achieve one or more of its aims. Initially the Fundwas only guaranteed for the current financial year, and had to be spent by 31 March 2006, but it will now be provided for 2006-07 and 2007/08, which is good news. We have received a satisfactory flow of proposals and all this year’s funding is effectivelycommitted.The AONB’s core funding from Defra, via the Countryside Agency, is also provided only on a year-to-year basis at present. Thereis an agreement in principle to move to a rolling three-year basis, but we cannot plan forward effectively until the principle is putinto practice and is extended to cover project funding.It is encouraging that the influence of the AONB and the value of its work are becoming more widely recognised by planners,and more generally by local and central government. Everything suggests that the problems of the future will relate not to findingenough work to do, but to finding the resources to tackle the rapidly increasing workload.For instance, the Rural Pathfinder Scheme, in which Hampshire County Council is involved, promises to offer interestingopportunities for us as it seeks to unravel the tangle of pronouncements from government agencies, each with its own agendaor geographical barony, and give effective land management advice.I began by thanking mypredecessor, and I wouldlike to end by thankingmy colleagues. The smallmanagement team, ledby Richard Clarke, hasperformed near-miracles incoping with the incessantdemands made upon them.Members of the Council ofPartners and the ExecutiveCommittee, who receive nopayment from the AONB,have also responded nobly tothe increasing claims on theirtime. I am very grateful tothem all.‘The North Wessex Downs is the largest ProtectedLandscape Area in Southern England’2 North Wessex Downs Annual Review 2004 - 2005North Wessex Downs Annual Review 2004 - 2005 3
Implementing theManagement PlanDavid Carman, Vice-Chairman ofthe Executive Committee reports onprogress so far, and challenges for thefutureOf the 54 high priority actions, nine have beendelivered for the whole area. They are:The statutory Management Plan for the AONB,together with a 90 point Action Plan, was adoptedby the AONB partners in March 2004. A totalof 54 actions were identified as high priority,mainly because they are essential precursors tofurther action or to improving knowledge andunderstanding.This Annual Review is an opportunity for theCouncil of Partners collectively, and its individualmembers, to demonstrate their effectiveness indelivering the Management Plan objectives.It is clear from the report below that much work isunderway, but there is also a strong sense that thisshows only the tip of a very large iceberg.The most effective delivery is achieved wheremember organisations within the Council ofPartners work together. The comprehensive, joinedupapproach that the Council of Partners enablesbrings benefits to all its members, not least interms of economies of scale, resource efficiencyand integration.This approach has enabled the production of theManagement Plan, the Landscape Sensitivity Studyand the AONB publication Up! On the NorthWessex Downs, to name but a few examples.Beyond the Council of Partners is a networkof individuals, groups and organisations that areactively engaged, possibly unwittingly, in the deliveryof the Management Plan. It is a challenge to theAONB partnership to make and maintain contactwith those people. This illustrates the need, forexample, for an awareness-raising strategy.As the AONB team enters its fourth year ofexistence, and the Council of Partners its fifth,it will be increasingly important to demonstratethat the objectives set out in the highly acclaimedManagement Plan can be translated into action.It will also be important for the future of theAONB to have an accurate picture of the combinedeffectiveness of the actions and programmes. TheExecutive Committee will work with the Council ofPartners, the AONB team and external partners toimplement the Management Plan, and monitor andevaluate its achievements.These high priority areas are not yet receivingattention, or urgently require wider actionthan is currently being undertaken:• Intrusive power lines• Pools of darkness (although CPRE has producedan England-wide map generated from satelliteimages)• Availability of grazing livestock• Environmental effects of the racehorse industry• An awareness-raising strategy• Design guidance• Alternative funding sources• Advisory leaflets• A network of best practice sites.Action Plan achievements.The following organisations have delivered, are delivering orare planning to deliver high priority actions:• The Council of Partners as a whole• Wiltshire County Council• Hampshire County Council• Oxfordshire County Council• West Berkshire Council• Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council• Test Valley Borough Council• South Oxfordshire District Council• Wiltshire Wildlife Trust• Countryside Agency• English Nature• Tourism South East• RSPB• Hampshire Woodland Forum• Pang and Kennet Valley Countryside ProjectsMany activities that are not high priority but nonethelesscontribute significantly to the delivery of the ManagementPlan are being undertaken. Swindon Borough Council, KennetDistrict Council, and Berkshire RIGS (Regionally ImportantGeological and Geomorphological Sites) Group are involved inlower priority actions.The South East Rural Pathfinder project hosted by HampshireCounty Council provides an exceptional opportunity for theAONB to take part in a project to pilot new ways of deliveringland management advice and achieve the implementation ofa number of priority actions (Action A72, A53, A54, A55 andA59). In addition, many local actions, too numerous to list, thatcontribute to the partial delivery of the Management Plan, areunderway or completed.The AONB Management Team is working with partnerorganisations to deliver several actions from theManagement Plan.Key among them are: Historic Landscape Characterisationstudy (Action A4), Chalk Grassland study (Action A17),Woodland Strategy (Action 18), Local Products Directory(Action A33), Geographical Information System (ActionA38 and 39), launch of the Tourist Welcome Pack (ActionA45 and A76), Downland Heritage Initiative (Action 57and A63), Ridgeway Corridor (Action A58), and the UrbanFringe project south of Swindon (Action 61).• A9. Key views into and from the AONB, addressed aspart of a stakeholder exercise on landscape value -delivered by the AONB Forum 2004.• A12. Preparation of a Landscape Sensitivity Study intowind turbines (originally a capacity study)• A15. Condition of statutory nature conservation sites– delivered by English Nature• A18. Preparation of a Woodland Strategy – delivered bythe AONB team• A30. Socio-economic characterisation of the AONB– delivered as part of a Countryside Agency contract• A36. Data collection on current tourism provision– delivered by Roger Budden’s work at Tourism SouthEast• A38. Geographical information system for the AONB• A39. Updating and expanding the GIS informationsystem for the AONB• A46. Establishment of the North Wessex DownsPlanning GroupA further 11 actions that cover the whole ofthe AONB are underway.The Fringe Benefits Workshop held at Wroughton inMarch 2004 attracted a wide audience and stimulated livelydiscussion on the management of the urban fringes ofsouthern Swindon. Funding from the Countryside Agencyenabled us to carry out an integrated urban fringe actionplan. This is part of a national planning demonstrationprogramme and will be useful for discussions with localauthorities and partners in other urban fringe areas closeto Basingstoke, Reading and Newbury.The action plan covers a wide range of issues, from flytipping,‘rat runs’ and use of rights of way, to the futureof farming in the fringe. It identifies a number of practicalways to tackle some of the issues that affect the area, and isbeing used as the basis of funding bids to get these projectsstarted.‘More than 93,000 people live in the North WessexDowns; the AONB has a population density of54 people/square kilometre’‘The North Wessex Downs AONB has nearlyone-tenth of the national resource of chalkgrassland found in the UK’4 North Wessex Downs Annual Review 2004 - 2005North Wessex Downs Annual Review 2004 - 2005 5
Achievements and Events during 2004 and 2005Looking Aheadwith Richard Clarke, Director of theNorth Wessex Downs AONB.During the financial year 2005-2006 the NorthWessex Downs AONB management team, alongwith the Executive Committee and Council ofPartners, is fully committed to the delivery of theManagement Plan.The new Welcome Pack for hospitality providers in theAONB to give to their guests was launched in Spring 2005.Dr Andrew Clegg of Chichester University led a workshoporganised by Tourism South East for people in the tourismbusiness to gain a better understanding of the North WessexDowns and how to maximise this valuable asset in theirservice provision.At the same time as encouraging and facilitatingthe delivery of the Plan we continue to maintaina strategic view of the bigger picture. Ourinvolvement in the development of regional andnational policy is particularly important given thesize and trans-regional location of the AONB.Spatial strategies are being developed for the SouthEast and South West regions; Defra’s modernisingagenda continues; and the Government Offices willdevelop their regional delivery frameworks. It isessential that the AONB team is influential in theRural Pathfinder scheme and the creation processof the new agency Natural England, and closelyinvolved with the National Association of AONBs.The 2004 Forum meeting took place in November atHungerford Town Hall. The meeting focused on the challengesthat this protected landscape faces from the changing needsof farming due to the introduction of the Single Farm Paymentscheme, and the Government’s commitment to producingenergy from renewable sources. Representatives from morethan 100 different groups took part in a consultation toassess the emotional significance of specific views within andof the AONB, which could be affected by changes to farmingpractices and introduction of renewable energy sources. Theresults contributed to a Landscape Sensitivity Study to helpguide planners, estate managers, farmers, energy providers andlocal authorities trying to meet the Government’s targets onrenewable sources for energy production, while protecting thelandscape.Fly-tipping and management of hazardous waste in thecountryside is a problem for several AONBs. At the 2004Game Fair, we teamed up with the Environment Agency tofocus on the importance of reporting fly-tipping and takingsteps to remove hazardous waste safely. The Cotswoldsand Chilterns AONBs highlighted different aspects of theirlandscape in a joint display area with the North WessexDowns.The North Wessex Downs management team, onbehalf of the Council of Partners, is well placed tobe influential at regional and national levels. Thebroad range of organisations represented on theCouncil of Partners have equally important rolesto play to ensure the key issues for this nationallyimportantlandscape are fully understood at alllevels.The Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) grantscheme introduced in July 2005 is helping us realisepractical aspirations and meet strategic goals. Wesecured £100,000 from Defra via the CountrysideAgency to be distributed in the SDF scheme toprojects before 31 March 2006. It provides grantsfor innovative, sustainable projects that involvecommunities, and in particular young people. Thisgrant scheme is our first, and we led the wayamong AONBs by developing an on-line applicationform and guidelines to minimise the amount ofpaperwork.Between 15 and 20 organisations will receivemoney from the SDF scheme during thecurrent financial year. Visit our website www.northwessexdowns.org.uk for more informationabout the grant recipients, the criteria and how toapply for a grant. We will be applying to the Agencyfor at least £100,000 per year for the next twoyears.Our regional workThe North Wessex Downs AONB representedall the Protected Landscapes of the South Eastin making representations to the RegionalAssembly on the South East Plan.Sir Charles Nunneley, Chairman of the Councilof Partners, along with the Chairmen of theSussex Downs and Chilterns AONBs, haddiscussions with the Chairman of SEEDA overcloser working.Richard Clarke sits on the Board of theNational Association of AONBs.Through a competitive process the NorthWessex Downs AONB Team gained more than£20,000 to research the management of thecountryside south of Swindon. This work willbe used regionally and nationally to influenceCountryside Agency policy.8 North Wessex Downs Annual Review 2004 - 2005‘More than 5 million people live within 20 minutes drive of the NorthWessex Downs. The major towns are Reading, Newbury, Basingstoke,Andover, Devizes, Swindon, Abingdon, Oxford and Didcot’‘27% of land in the North Wessex Downs was under agricultural schemesin 2003 – well above the regional average – and this is likely to haveincreased under the new stewardship schemes’North Wessex Downs Annual Review 2004 - 2005 9
Financial Statement2004 - 2005Income. Contributions to core budget from:Countryside Agency £199,022Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council £3,362Hampshire County Council £8,220Kennet District Council £4,641North Wiltshire District Council £2,785Oxfordshire County Council £5,604South Oxfordshire District Council £3,362Swindon Borough Council £3,362Test Valley Borough Council £3,362Vale of White Horse District Council £3,362West Berkshire Council £8,220Wiltshire County Council £10,120Other sources:Landscape Sensitivity Study £8,840Newsguide / Publications £3,000Total £265,363Core ExpenditureProject ExpenditureSalary and associated costs 55%Management Plan production costs 13%Accommodation 9%Promotion and research 8%IT 6%Newsguide and publications 4%Partnership costs 2%Other costs 2%Recruitment 1%Income. Contributions to projects received from:Countryside Agency £41,500Forestry Commission £12,000Great Western Community Forest £1,000Hampshire County Council £6,500North Wiltshire District Council £1,000Oxfordshire County Council £1,000South Oxfordshire District Council £350South West Regional Development Agency £2,100West Berkshire Council £1,000Wiltshire County Council £6,000Woodland Strategy 14%Urban Fringe Action Plan 33%Chalk Grassland Strategy 12%Downland Heritage Project 9%Integrated Access Project 4%Local Products Directory 6%Quiet Lanes Project 11%Land Based Training Provision 7%Product Evaluation Group 4%Who’s WhoWho’s Who in the AONB Team, and how theAONB governance works.The AONB office is located at Denford Manor, Lower Denford,Hungerford, Berkshire.The Management Team contact telephone numbers ande-mails are:Richard Clarke, Director: 01488 firstname.lastname@example.orgBelinda Fowler, Development Officer: 01488 email@example.comHuw Williams, Planning Policy Advisor: 01488 firstname.lastname@example.orgLiz Wright, Administrative Support Officer: 01488 email@example.comCaroline Kaneen will return to the office in February 2006 totake on work associated with GIS.The AONB team supports and works with the Council ofPartners and the Executive Committee to:• Provide a focus and central information base for the AONB.• Raise awareness of and promote the unique identity of theAONB.• Provide the strategic approach to delivering the AONBManagement Plan.• Be a catalyst for and project-manage activities to deliver theAONB Management Plan.• Provide planning advice to add value to local authorities’planning function.The Council of Partners includes representatives of the11 local authorities that have administrative responsibilitiesfor the area covered by the North Wessex Downs AONB.It also includes representatives of The Countryside Agency,community and parish councils, farming and rural business,historic environment, nature conservation, rural recreation andtourism. A list of the organisations represented on the Councilof Partners is given on the back cover of this document and onwww.northwessexdowns.org.ukThe Council of Partners has a responsibility to:• Advise on and co-ordinate the work of the constituent localauthorities.• Prepare, produce and implement the AONB ManagementPlan.• Promote the unique identity of the AONB.• Secure sufficient funding for AONB activities.• Raise the profile and increase the understanding of theAONB.The Council of Partners met on 22 June 2004, 16 November2004, 10 March 2005, 1 April 2005 – Special meeting to discussthe South East Plan and formulate a response, and 29 June2005.The Executive Committee consists of individuals with avariety of skills who are appointed by the Council of Partners,with a responsibility to:• Provide guidance and advice for the work of the AONB team.• Promote liaison and co-ordinate action betweenorganisations implementing the AONB Management Plan.• Advise the Council of Partners on the resources required toimplement the AONB Management Plan.• Develop links with key external organisations and influentiallocal bodies.• Develop policy recommendations and identify managementissues.The Executive Committee met on 10 June 2004, 10 August2004, 11 January 2005, 14 June 2005, and 29 July 2005. A list ofthe Executive Committee members is given on the back coverof this document.The North Wessex Downs AONB Forum meetsannually to discuss issues to be addressed through the work ofthe AONB. The Forum met in November 2004 at Hungerford,and in May 2005, at Temple Farming, Rockley, Marlborough.The Forum comprises representatives from organisationsand groups within the AONB including farmers, land-owners,ramblers, horse-riders, parish councillors, and members oflocal wildlife groups, history societies, and community actionand special interest groups. Forum members nominatecandidates from the interest groups to serve as AdvisoryMembers of the Council of Partners.The Forum meeting has a dual purpose:• To enable the AONB Director to give reports on activityand progress in delivering the AONB Management Plan,and to encourage the discussion of issues that require theircontributions from Forum members.• To enable Forum members to raise issues that need to beaddressed through the work of the AONB.To date the Forum meetings have been lively, with a high levelof community engagement.‘Many people who live in the North WessexDowns work in banking, finance and insurance’‘1.4% of people who live in the North Wessex Downs work inagriculture, forestry and equine sectors’10 North Wessex Downs Annual Review 2004 - 2005North Wessex Downs Annual Review 2004 - 2005 11
Council of Partners at 1st April 2004Basingstoke and Deane Borough CouncilHampshire County CouncilKennet District CouncilNorth Wiltshire District CouncilOxfordshire County CouncilSouth Oxfordshire District CouncilSwindon Borough CouncilTest Valley Borough CouncilVale of White Horse Borough CouncilWest Berkshire CouncilWiltshire County CouncilThe Countryside AgencyRepresenting the interests of Communityand ParishCommittee for Rural HampshireCommunity Council for BerkshireFriends of Pang, Kennet and Lambourn Valleys(from June 2005)Hampshire Association of Parish and Town CouncilsLetcombe Regis Parish Council (up to June 2005)Representing the interests of Farmingand Rural BusinessAxis FarmingCountry Land and Business AssociationForestry Commission (from June 2005)Government Office for the South EastNational Farmers’ UnionLockinge Estate (up to June 2005)Representing the interests of HistoricEnvironmentCouncil of British Archaeology, WessexEnglish HeritageRepresenting the interests of NatureConservationEnglish NatureBerkshire, Buckinghamshire and OxfordshireFarming and Wildlife Advisory Group (up to June2005)Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (fromJune 2005)Royal Society for the Protection of BirdsRepresenting the interests of Recreationand Rural TourismFriends of the Ridgeway (from June 2005)Ramblers’ AssociationTourism South East (up to June 2005)Executive CommitteeMembers from 1st April 2004Andrew Davis (Chair)David Carman (Vice Chair)Graham BryantPaula Amorelli (until July 2005)Harry BartonChristopher Boreham (from July 2005)Duncan Coe (from July 2005)Alistair CunninghamRichard Clarke (ex officio)Alex Green (from July 2005)Garry King (from July 2005)Sir Charles Nunneley (ex officio)Jeremy SandellJulian Sayers (until July 2005)Sir James Scott (until May 2005)For more information please contact:North Wessex Downs AONB Office,Denford Manor, Lower DenfordHungerford RG17 0UNTel: 01488 685440E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgWeb: www.northwessexdowns.org.ukCopyright: The photographs in this Annual Review have been reproduced with the permission of the photographers, including Advance Publications, the Countryside Agency/Ann Seth, Stewart Turkington and members of the AONB team.