55. Cotswolds Conservation Board
The Cotswolds Conservation Board is the organisation that exists to conserve and enhance the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Established in 2004, the board is the only organisation to look after the AONB as a whole and is a statutory body created as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW) 2000.
The act allowed for the creation of boards to oversee large AONBs that overstep county boundaries and cannot easily be hosted by one local authority. The board is made up of 37 members who all take part in key decisions concerning the AONB.
Members gather at board, executive and sub-committee meetings across the year and are drawn from three tiers of regional government to ensure that a fair and broad range of views and areas of expertise are reflected.
Of the 37 members, 15 are nominated by local authorities, eight by parish councils and 14 are appointed by the government.
The board has a small team of staff based at Northleach, a market town at the heart of the Cotswolds AONB. In addition, the board is supported by 350 Cotswold Voluntary Wardens who are an integral part of the organisation, dedicating thousands of hours each year to practical conservation and promotional work for the AONB.
Cllr Eyre said: "We like to think of the board as stewards of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, working with local authorities, communities, organisations and individuals to make sure that the particular beauty of its special landscape can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.
"As well as offering a wide range of guidance and advice on subjects such as planning and development, land management, recreation and access, we also run very popular rural skills courses and a year-round programme of guided walks led by our voluntary wardens.
"We also run the Escape to the Cotswolds visitor centre in the Old Prison at Northleach, which tells the fascinating story of the Cotswolds and how the natural landscape which gives the area its unique character has been shaped and cherished by people over many centuries.
"We’ve helped numerous local community projects through our Sustainable Development Fund, trained hundreds in dry stone walling, hedgelaying and other traditional crafts, provided a wealth of advice and information to people living, working and visiting the Cotswolds, and have worked with many landowners and farmers to ensure that our landscape will retain its special character well into the future.
"With a decade of achievements behind us, we are looking forward to the next decade and the many challenges and opportunities that it will bring."
Activities of the Cotswolds Conservation Board
The activities of the Cotswolds Conservation Board are wide-ranging and cover areas such as:
• Conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB.
• Increasing understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the AONB, ensuring these complement the conservation and enhancement of the area.
• Securing major support for conservation projects in the Cotswolds AONB.
• Promoting green transport and tourism initiatives.
• Providing public information about the AONB and encouraging people to enjoy the area.
• Providing specialist landscape advice to 15 planning departments in local authorities across the AONB.
• Responding to national and regional consultations on matters affecting the AONB.
• Communicating regularly with a wide network of partner organisations.
• Working alongside 350 Cotswold Voluntary Wardens who undertake thousands of hours of practical work to help conserve the AONB every year.
• Organising events and over 300 guided walks every year.
• Working closely with farming groups to give advice to local landowners.
• Providing information on rural grants.
• Supporting rural skills by running competitions and training courses in drystone walling and hedgelaying.
• Supporting projects that promote an awareness of the connection between food production, farming and the landscape.
In fulfilling these roles, the board seeks to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the AONB. The board works to the AONB management plan, which sets out its aims and objectives over a five-year period.