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Latest news

Nature Improvement Area (NIA) bid – next round

We are happy to announce that all three NIA bids in the North Wessex Downs AONB have made it through to the third and final round of judging. Big Chalk, Marlborough Downs and Hampshire Farmers will join fellow Southern bids from Plymouth, Purbeck and the South Downs in presenting to the panel lead by Sir John Lawton in February. We wish everyone luck! For more details concerning the NIA process, please contact Oliver Cripps on olivercripps@northwessexdowns.org.uk

Why are we objecting to plans for a new incinerator?

Proposed incinerator image

Image produced by West Berks Against Grundon’s Incinerator (WBAGI) illustrating how they think the incinerator will appear in the landscape.

75-metre stacks and hubs capable of burning 350,000 tonnes of household and industrial waste a year could be seen in Chieveley, near to junction 13 of the M4, if Grundon’s proposals for a new incinerator go through. We have been arguing for over a year that this development is unacceptable for a number of reasons including:

  • This proposal will result in significant, unacceptable and long term damage to the character and qualities of this area of open countryside within the protected landscape of the North Wessex Downs AONB.
  • alternative locations are available outside this protected landscape.
  • the development would breach International, European, National, Regional and Local laws and guidance in relation to development in the countryside and the protection of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (equal to that of National Parks).

For a full explanation of why we are opposing the development, read our Planning Advisor’s most recent letter of objection.

A vision of future farming

CPRE - A vision of future farming

A new survey finds well over four out of five British adults (84 per cent) believe that farmers have a responsibility to look after the landscape and wildlife for future generations.

These findings mirror the aspirations of a new, ambitious vision for the future of farming published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). The CPRE farming vision outlines the changes to farming practices and agricultural policy CPRE would like to see by 2026.

Win £1000 for your Berkshire community group

Entries are now being accepted for the 2012 Dorothy Morley Conservation Awards. Community groups involved in practical environmental work have the chance to win £1000 to fund their future work, with the runner up receiving a £500 grant. Further details can be found on the BBOWT website.

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Grants to enhance the AONB

Wildflowers on the Chalk

View to the south west of Blewbury in winter

View to the south west of Blewbury in winter

"Sustainable Blewbury" has recently received a grant from our Sustainable Development Fund. The project aims to preserve, improve and create areas of chalk grassland in and near the village of Blewbury in South Oxfordshire. To help get the very best from the grant, the project team have arranged a visit by wildflower expert Charles Flower to look at the sites, particularly the area where a new wildflower meadow will be created. Charles will advise on the best mix of plants and the best methods for establishing them.

If you would like to attend the meeting in Blewbury at 11am on the 27th February 2012 please contact Oliver Cripps on olivercripps@northwessexdowns.org.uk or Peter Cockrell on peter@cockrell.plus.com. If you would like more information about Sustainable Blewbury and the project please visit www.sustainable-blewbury.org.uk.

If you think one of our SDF grants could help your project please get in touch with Oliver Cripps on 01488 680457 or olivercripps@northwessexdowns.org.uk.

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Some dates for your diary

FEBRUARY  
11th Coppicing workshop - at Little Hidden Farm, Hungerford. £35 plus a hot woodland lunch, proceeds to Farm Africa. Contact acworths@littlehiddenfarm.co.uk.
11th When dinosaurs ruled Berkshire - A walk around Snelsmore Common to find pebbles, bogs and holes. Rock Detectives geology club for 6-12 year olds Funded by our SDF. Contact Lesley on lesley@berksgeoconservation.org.uk or 07790 896118.
15th What is geology? - mask-making, fossil handling & more at the Earth Trust, Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire. Rock Detectives geology club for 6-12 year olds. Funded by our SDF. Contact Oxfordshire Geology Trust on contact@oxfordshiregt.org.
18th Introduction to Winter trees - spend the morning learning how to identify trees and shrubs in winter around Faccombe. For details visit www.hwt.org.uk.
19th Bridleway clearance and hedgerow planting - Friends of the Railway Path workday planned between Chiseldon to Gypsy Lane. Contact Dick Millard on dick.millard@btinternet.com.
27th How greenhouse gas emissions from your farm affect your business - practical one day conference for farmers and farm advisors including farmer led workshops and hands on carbon accounting exercise for your own farm. Supported by North Wessex Downs LEADER. Visit www.northwessexleader.org.uk.
28th How the Thames won the World Cup (for rivers!) - Alastair Driver of the Environment Agency, will describe the on-going restoration of the River Thames which won the world's largest environmental award in 2010 - The International Riverprize.7.30pm, Pangbourne Village Hall, £2.
MARCH  
6th Clearing veteran tree halos - come and help Dick Greenaway clear lop and top from halos around veteran trees in this beautiful woodland. Meet at 10am, The Cottage, Ashampstead Common. Grid ref: SU 5768 7511. Visit West Berkshire Countryside Society for lots of other events in Feb and Mar.
22nd Presentation on Chalk Hydrology/Hydrogeology - by a hydrologist from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology near Wallingford. Contact contact@oxfordshiregt.org.
24th Bricks & Whiting - a short walk on footpaths of about 2 miles around Kintbury to look at the evidence of the industrial past. Contact lesley@berksgeoconservation.org.uk.
27th Berks, Bucks & Oxon Woodland Forum - 2pm - 4.30pm, Neighbours Hall, Great Milton, Oxon. Contact Karen.kay@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or 01296 696543.

If you have an event in the North Wessex Downs that you would like us to mention, please email katiewilson@northwessexdowns.org.uk.

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And finally...

Become a volunteer lock keeper

Become a volunteer lock keeper

Waterway lovers are being offered the chance to volunteer as a lock keeper for the Canal & River Trust, the charity that takes over British Waterways' responsibility for 2,000 miles of waterways in England & Wales later this year.

Lock keepers have been a fixture on Britain's canals for hundreds of years and while some duties remain the same, today's lock keepers don't have as difficult a time as their early predecessors who had to haul heavy lock gates open by hand, defend themselves against river pirates and fight off toll thieves. The role of the modern-day lock keeper is to provide a polite and friendly welcome to waterway visitors, assist boaters through locks and help maintain the lock area.

Between March 2010 and April 2011 over 50 people took part in British Waterways' volunteer lock keeper trials on the Kennet & Avon Canal. The scheme was so successful that it has now been expanded to over 50 locations. For more information about the role email volunteer@britishwaterways.co.uk.

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The North Wessex Downs AONB Team:

Oliver Cripps, acting Assistant Director
Liz Duquenoy, Office Manager
Andrew Lord, Planning Advisor
Diane Nicolle, North Wessex Farmland Birds Advisor
Henry Oliver, Director
Katie Wilson, Communications Officer
Corinna Woodall, Leader Programme Manager

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