Cotswold Life

Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons

A newly launched £400,000 pro­gramme is set to pro­mote projects that lead the way in look­ing af­ter the Cotswolds

- WORDS: For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the Cotswolds AONB and the Cotswolds Con­ser­va­tion Board: Cotswolds Con­ser­va­tion Board The Old Prison, Fosse Way, North­leach, Glouces­ter­shire, GL54 3JH. Tel: 01451 862000 www.cotswold­saonb.org.uk Cotswolds · Network Rail Route 18 · Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts · Scott Brown · Old Sodbury · Alderton

The snap­pily named Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons Pro­gramme will, Scott Brown says, “sup­port, cel­e­brate and tell the sto­ries of peo­ple and or­gan­i­sa­tions that are al­ready do­ing im­por­tant work to con­serve and pro­tect the Cotswolds Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty (AONB), as well as show­case how we as the Cotswolds Con­ser­va­tion Board (CCB) work with them to de­liver projects that gen­uinely make a last­ing dif­fer­ence at the land­scape scale.”

Scott is Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons Project Of­fi­cer and over the past few months since the launch of the pro­gramme he has been busy talk­ing with po­ten­tial part­ners whose ac­tiv­i­ties chime with CCB pri­or­i­ties. The idea is that by join­ing forces, so much more can be achieved, and while it’s still early days the pro­gramme is at­tract­ing huge in­ter­est.

Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons has fund­ing to the tune of £400,000, se­cured through ne­go­ti­a­tion by CCB from Net­work Rail to mit­i­gate and com­pen­sate for ad­verse im­pacts of rail elec­tri­fi­ca­tion works in the AONB along the 10km sec­tion of line be­tween Old Sod­bury and Alder­ton. Now the chal­lenge is on to make the most of the money. The pro­gramme ini­tially runs un­til win­ter 2021/22 and am­bi­tions are high.

“Our lead project, which has a bud­get of £200,000, is the Cotswolds AONB Rail Cor­ri­dor En­hance­ment Project it­self, in­clud­ing line-side plant­ing to help screen or soften the vis­ual im­pact of the rail elec­tri­fi­ca­tion works,” Scott says. “We’ll be work­ing with farm­ers and landown­ers, and there’s also po­ten­tial for us to help them with land sur­veys and long-term sus­tain­abil­ity plans that might at­tract other in­vest­ment, or fund­ing through the En­vi­ron­men­tal Land Man­age­ment scheme.

“The Rail Cor­ri­dor En­hance­ment Project tells a re­ally good story nose-to­tail of how CCB works, from work­ing with Net­work Rail, who had a statu­tory duty to con­sider the im­pact of works on the pro­tected land­scape, through

ne­go­ti­at­ing and se­cur­ing a de­cent chunk of fund­ing to mit­i­gate and com­pen­sate for ad­verse ef­fects, to scal­ing out to work with more part­ners and com­mu­ni­ties.”

An­other £25,000 of the Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons bud­get has been set aside to boost funds raised by lo­cal tourism busi­nesses and vis­i­tors for the Caring for the Cotswolds scheme. The scheme has pre­vi­ously sup­ported a wide range of projects, from help­ing to de­velop a com­mu­nity or­chard to map­ping vil­lage foot­paths. Many more such ini­tia­tives are now set to ben­e­fit.

Money is also be­ing ear­marked for ex­cit­ing plans to help cre­ate the King­fisher Trail in 2021, a new sculp­ture trail across the AONB fo­cused on rais­ing aware­ness of our rivers and the fresh­wa­ter en­vi­ron­ment.

CCB’S statu­tory pur­poses are well known – to con­serve and en­hance the nat­u­ral beauty of the Cotswolds AONB, and to in­crease un­der­stand­ing and en­joy­ment of its spe­cial qual­i­ties. Fur­ther projects to be sup­ported by Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons fund­ing will be se­lected for their fit with a range of CCB pri­or­i­ties.

“For ex­am­ple, we will be look­ing at projects that sup­port na­ture re­cov­ery, tackle cli­mate change, im­prove the fresh­wa­ter en­vi­ron­ment and wa­ter qual­ity, and con­nect peo­ple with the coun­try­side,” Scott says. “We want to avoid du­pli­ca­tion and so se­lected projects will rep­re­sent a range of our pri­or­i­ties and tell good sto­ries about them.”

Scott has been reach­ing out to Wildlife Trusts, en­vi­ron­men­tal char­i­ties, farm­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions and other groups to dis­cuss work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively and how Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons fund­ing can help to achieve shared ob­jec­tives.

The core fo­cus is on projects in the south and cen­tral Cotswolds (as pro­gramme fund­ing re­sulted from Net­work Rail works in that area) but there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to blos­som out wider. In catch­ment part­ner­ship projects, for in­stance, Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons funds could con­trib­ute to work in one sec­tion of a catch­ment area, link­ing into other parts of the scheme funded from dif­fer­ent quar­ters.

“We hope to get re­ally good value for money: not just to fund a project out­right, but to get big­ger projects off the ground or build up projects at a land­scape scale,” Scott says. “By show­ing what’s pos­si­ble we can en­cour­age oth­ers to get in­volved too. Some­times we’ll take a lead and manage a project di­rectly, other times we will play a sup­port­ing role.”

Work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively is, of course, typ­i­cal of CCB’S nat­u­ral modus operandi. As Scott puts it, “We’re a rel­a­tively small team and we cover a big area. Our role is very much about join­ing the dots be­tween dif­fer­ent peo­ple, projects and or­gan­i­sa­tions, and rep­re­sent­ing the strate­gic in­ter­ests of the pro­tected land­scape.

“We’ve got great staff with lots of ex­pe­ri­ence, in land man­age­ment, plan­ning, ac­cess, ru­ral skills, who can pro­vide ad­vice and guid­ance, and add value to projects. The Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons Pro­gramme is a show­case for how CCB in­volve­ment in projects can make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence, and we hope this will en­cour­age even more peo­ple to want to work with us.”

As mo­men­tum gains on the Cotswolds Cham­pi­ons Pro­gramme, Scott plans to an­nounce spe­cific sup­ported projects in the com­ing months – watch this space for some in­spir­ing sto­ries!

 ??  ?? Farm­land, near Elk­stone
Farm­land, near Elk­stone
 ??  ?? Scott Brown
Scott Brown
 ??  ?? A red ad­mi­ral but­ter­fly in the Cotswold coun­try­side
A red ad­mi­ral but­ter­fly in the Cotswold coun­try­side
 ??  ?? Land man­age­ment in the Cotswolds
Land man­age­ment in the Cotswolds
 ??  ?? Mar­bled white
Mar­bled white
 ??  ?? Con­ser­va­tion within the Cotswolds AONB
Con­ser­va­tion within the Cotswolds AONB
 ??  ??

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