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Cranborne Chase AONB E-Bulletin December 2014

The Hart - Cranborne Chase AONB December E-Bulletin


  • AONB Chairman
  • Dark Night Skies Update
  • New Countryside Stewardship Scheme
  • Business of the Month
  • Animal of the Month
  • General News/Events

Cranborne Chase AONB is looking for a new independent Chairman!

The work of the AONB team is guided and overseen by our Partnership Panel.
The Panel is made up of representatives from 18 organisations that have duties or responsibilities within the AONB, including the nine Local Authorities.

An enthusiastic individual is sought to chair the Partnership with knowledge and/or experience and, most importantly, a genuine interest in some of the following: landscape, the natural and historic environment, rural communities and economy, farming, forestry, planning, rural tourism, rural skills training and volunteering.

This is an unpaid position although an annual honorarium and reasonable mileage will be paid. The requirement is to chair two Partnership Panel meetings a year, the Annual AONB Forum and to champion the work of the AONB Partnership and team.
There will also be the opportunity to attend the Annual Conference of the National Association of AONBs and informal training regarding ‘all things AONB’ will be given.
For further details please go to our website homepage at to download a briefing pack.
Expressions of interest by 19th December 2014

Dark, Starry Night Skies…………

The AONB Partnership is aiming to apply for ‘Dark Night Sky’ status by the autumn of 2016.

Before the application can be submitted, there is much work to do!

To begin with the AONB team will need to work with local experts to:
  • Take sky quality meter (SQM) readings at night to determine the darkest core area and a buffer zone around it.
  • Work with Local Authorities to agree a ‘Lightscape Management Plan’, intended to keep light levels at an absolute minimum in the core and buffer zones.
  • Undertake an audit of current lighting within the AONB.
  • Promote and publicise the benefits and wonders of dark night skies far and wide around the AONB, including many star gazing walks and other events giving everyone the opportunity to learn more about the fabulous environment above our heads.
The AONB team is planning a series of events and activities to help celebrate the wonders of dark, starry skies so keep checking the web site.
Find out more and download presentations from the recent Planning & Transportation seminar on our website at:

New Countryside Stewardship Scheme

As part of recent reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a new scheme for rewarding farmers for environmental management has been launched. Defra's £900 million scheme replaces Entry Level and Higher Level Stewardship (ELS and HLS).

There are three main elements - Higher Tier (similar to the current HLS); Mid Tier (which will replace ELS) and a lower tier of capital grants, including the Hedgerows and Boundaries Capital Grant. Capital grants for projects to reduce water pollution and for woodland creation will be available in 2015 and environmental management agreements will be available to all eligible farmers, land managers, land owners and tenants in England from January 1, 2016.  These agreements will mostly be for five years and applications will be scored to check whether an agreement can be offered.
wild bird seed mix on the West Wilts Downs
The Higher Tier is for the most environmentally important sites and woodlands. These will usually be in places that need complex management, such as habitat restoration, woodland creation or tailored measures for priority species.
The Mid Tier aims to address widespread environmental issues, such as reducing diffuse water pollution or improving the farmed environment for farmland birds and pollinators.

Countryside Stewardship will be more targeted than the scheme it replaces. It is expected to cover approximately 40% of farmland in England, compared with the 70% coverage achieved by ELS and HLS, meaning many farmers will be unable to access the grants.

Farmers will in many cases be required to do more to earn payments than they do under ELS). This is partly the result of the introduction of compulsory environmental measures  or 'greening' under the  new CAP for any farmer wishing to receive a farm support payment, and the requirement to ensure there is no ‘double funding’ for the same measures.

For further information, see the Introducing Countryside Stewardship pdf on the Defra Website.

Business of the Month

Chalke Valley Stores
Chalke Valley Stores
This month we are blowing the trumpet for the Chalke Valley Stores.  Not that it really needs blowing - this community facility is a shop, a café, a post office, a meeting place, a historical archive and a police station.
On May 1st 2014, less than a year after opening, they were voted the UK’s Best Village Shop / Post Office in the Countryside Alliance Awards.  The full facility (also known as the Chalke Valley Community Hub) offers both retail and community facilities and is a  facility  for  the  whole  of  The  Chalke  Valley  and  not  just  for  the  village of  Broad Chalke.
Sowing Seeds, with a grant of £91,734 formed a substatial part of the funding required to launch the Chalke Valley Community Hub.  Although the Sowing Seeds project has now finished, a new project entitled 'Heart of Wessex' has now been set up to work with local people and businesses to develop opportunities for improving the rural economy and quality of life for people living and working in the AONB and beyond.

To find out more, please visit the website or contact Sarah Dyke-Bracher on 07826 907361 or email

Bird of the Month

Bird of the Month
Turtle Dove
Despite being mentioned in the Christmas song, the Twelve Days Of Christmas, Turtle doves are absent from the UK at this time of year as they overwinter in sub-saharan Africa.

Most news concerning this beautiful and iconic species is gloomy with the bird being labelled one of our fastest declining bird species.
In Wiltshire we are lucky enough to still have some Turtle doves and it one of the species targeted by the South Wiltshire Farmland Bird Project (SWFBP).
With help from the SWFBP, Natural England and volunteers a pilot study carried out a survey of breeding birds across the Martin Down National Nature Reserve last summer.
See the results of the survey on our blog page.

General News/Events

Enhancing the visual amenity of the AONB
The National Grid have launched a Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project.  The National Assosciation of AONBs (NAAONBs) has been working closely with National Grid to help take this project forward and funding has now been made available to mitigate the visual impact of power lines and cables in AONBs.

In addition to this, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) has earmarked approximately £1.5 million per year for the next 8 years - used to give smaller grants to AONBs on which low voltage pylons make an impact. Set to be launched in 2015, we will shortly be submitting applications for the areas in the Cranborne Chase AONB that could most benefit from this mitigation work.
Bird Henge Trail Launch
The Bird Henge and its accompanying trail were enabled by a grant from the AONB.

The Bird Henge Online Trail for ramblers was launched by 30 local walkers starting and finishing at the Prince Leopold Inn, Upton Lovell on November 15th. The trail offers varied historic relics: Saxon carvings, a mediaeval knight’s tomb, and a bridge made as part of D-Day preparations in 1944.  It is in a figure of eight with Knook as the “waist” and just over 3 miles long.
It passes the modern sculpture installation of Bird Henge – a henge of giant birds made by the Scraptors Sculpture Group, mainly with recycled materials.

Anthony Wilson, a member of the Scraptors Group, said; 'Compiling the online trail has been a voyage of discovery in a patch that I have known all my life. I have toddled over a bridge since I was toddler without realizing its connection with D-Day'.

For a limited period The Prince Leopold is offering a discount of 10% on food to groups of six or more who prebook and quote 'Bird Henge Trail' to receive the discount.
Full details of the trail are on  
Contacts: Anthony Wilson 01985 840223, Liza and John Kearney of the Prince Leopold 01985  850460
Computers for Rural People Scheme
We are always on the look out to find ways to help our rural communities to get better connected. One scheme has been bought to our attention that seeks to do exactly this - by providing rural communities, individuals, schools and groups with high quality, fully-refurbished second hand computers at very low cost.

The computers are being made available through the Arthur Rank Centre. This is a collaborative unit supported by the National Churches, the Royal Agricultural Society of England and the Rank Foundation.

See the Arthur Rank Centre Website for further details.
Christmas events at Blandford Forum
There's loads going on in Blandford Forum throughout December from supporting local businesses on Saturday 6th Dec to Peter Pan panto on Sunday 21st Dec.
See Blandford Forum Town Council's website for more details.
Tisbury leisure centre - Kids for a quid
Christmas holiday programme for children will run from Mon 22 Dec until Sat 3 Jan, with all activities just £1 per child (apart from art and craft which is £2).
See more on the Wiltshire Council website, or see their Facebook Page.
First Great Western wants to work in partnership with local tourism businesses
FGW wants to work in partnership with local tourism businesses, to provide offers on the FGW website that will encourage more people to visit the beautiful South West.
The promotion is about small businesses as well as large visitor attractions and will be live until the end of February 2015. See the First Great Western Website for details.
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