Contact: Kate Griffiths
Apologies and Substitutes
Apologies were received from Tony Baker, James Bissett, Sarah Faulkner, Ken Pollock and Richard Williams.
Philip Houlebrook attended to represent the NFU and Nicola Forde represented the CPRE.
Declaration of Interests
To elect a Chairman
Gwyneth Rees was nominated and seconded for the position of Chairman. There were no further nominations so she was duly elected to the position of Chairman.
To appoint a Vice Chairman
Ken Pollock was nominated and seconded for the position of Vice Chairman in his absence and as there were no other nominations he was duly appointed to the position of Vice Chairman.
Confirmation of the minutes of the previous meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 7 April 2017 were agreed to be an accurate record of the meeting and were signed by the Chairman.
Paul Esrich reported that, as requested by members in April 2017, he had written to funding local authorities and to most Parish Councils in the AONB. Letters sent had highlighted the Partnership's achievements and requested that consideration be given to (enhanced) funding contributions to the Partnership's work.
To receive a presentation from Oliver Hölzinger (Consultancy for Environmental Economics & Policy - CEEP) on a Natural Capital Scoping Study for the Malvern Hills AONB.
Oliver Hölzinger from the Consultancy for Environmental Economics and Policy gave a presentation on the scoping study he had completed on Natural Capital in the AONB.
Natural Capital can be defined as the world’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things. The study had looked at Natural Capital within the AONB and considered:
· Establishing a register of Natural Capital Assets
· Broadly grading the assets, in terms of which were most valuable
· Monitoring any change in them
· Quantifying them in monetary terms
Oliver explained that we should maintain Natural Capital both for its own sake and for the benefits it provides. Putting a monetary value on Natural Capital was felt to be important so that it was considered in decision making by policy makers who were not necessarily involved in nature.
Results from this study revealed that certain habitats in the AONB offered a greater range of ecosystem services to humans than others.
The recommendations for further actions following the study included:
· workshops - to strengthen the evidence base and carry out monetary evaluation; a business case should be produced to develop ways to protect Natural Capital,
· Land ranger maps could be updated to record natural capital,
· A visitor survey - carried out to assess people's use of natural capital in the AONB,
· Looking at how natural capital has been affected by development and how development control could help protect it,
· Low intensity farming and food markets for local produce could be promoted,
· Bringing more traditional orchards into management, restoring traditional woodlands and planting more shelter trees.
In the following discussion the following points were made:
· Natural Capital was taken for granted but it had an important impact on well-being, by providing areas for exercise and improving mental health,
· Natural Capital should be considered as part of the forthcoming review of the AONB Management Plan,
· Consideration could be given to the desirability of creating new areas of woodland but a full assessment would be needed to consider what might be lost in the process,
· It would be better to concentrate on taking short-term sustainable steps rather than trying to second-guess longer term political outcomes,
· Natural Capital needs to be publicised and explained so that the public understand what it means. It can be better understood if a monetary value is put on it,
· Population increase is likely to put pressure on Natural Capital,
· Cross boundary and partnership working is likely to be important in considering Natural Capital and the benefits it provides,
· Natural England was thanked for part funding the project.
Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project
To receive a presentation from Karen Humphries (Project Officer) on the delivery of this Heritage Lottery supported project.
Karen Humphries – Project Officer for the Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project gave an update on the project. The project had been funded by the National Lottery who had provided £322,000 over 3 years. An extension had been granted and the project was now due to end in March 2018. Most of the aims of the project have been exceeded and all but one achieved.
A traditional orchard was described as 5 or more large trees, with permanent grass beneath. The three counties has approximately one third of the total hectares of traditional orchards in the UK but many orchards are vanishing due to neglect and lack of knowledge about how they should be managed.
The project had set out to train local people who would then go on to share their knowledge with others and over 100 volunteers had learnt how to prune and plant. The project had restored 40 orchards including planting 500 new rare variety trees grown from graft wood from the local area. The project had also been involved with archaeological digs, looking at the history of orchards, exhibitions and walk and talks.
The project had additionally given advice to non-project landowners, discovered heritage varieties and started looking at ways of working with commercial firms to use their excess fruit. The establishment of mother orchards to supply grafts has also been considered.
For the future the Heritage Lottery have been asked for support with a trial of creating Orchard Wardens and advanced training was required for people who have already received the initial training.
Sven Bosley commented that regrettably the fees involved in being registered as organic exceeded the premium paid for organic fruit.
The Project had been considered to be very successful and Karen was thanked for her update.
To receive a report from Paul Esrich, AONB Partnership Manager.
Paul Esrich explained that the Castlemorton Parish Council had wished to reduce the speed limit from 60 to 50 along the B4208 in the parish. He summarized the consultation process undertaken by Worcestershire Highways and the AONB Unit's involvement in trying to achieve a landscape-sensitive solution (as set out in the paper).
Jerry Fryman reported that the Parish Council did not consider the new signs to be obtrusive.
a) The report be noted and
b) The issues were discussed and it was hoped that in future traffic management schemes in the AONB would be delivered by Highways Authorities in a landscape sensitive way.
To receive a report from David Armitage, AONB Partnership Assistant Manager.
David Armitage highlighted various projects which had benefitted from the Sustainable Development Fund including:
· The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) tent for baby feeding and changing at events
· Orchard mental health exercises
· Homeopathic Gardening and
· Crayfish extermination
The scheme had almost £8,000 still to spend this year.
RESOLVED that the Committee:
a) Noted and commented on the report,
b) Should contact David Armitage with any projects that might be suitable for this fund, and
c) Should consider whether Local Authorities should make more enquiries of this fund.
To note the items for information.
Paul Esrich highlighted various information items;
· Finding rare species in the Malverns – a part time Project Officer (Lucy Grove) had been appointed as part of this new two year project,
· Highways verges management pilot project – this had now commenced,
· Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund – a bid was being compiled for government funding to help bring farmers and other land managers together to share experience and progress landscape scale work in the area west of the Malvern Hills,
· Development management – Severn Trent wanted to discontinue the British Camp reservoir. Following consultation Malvern Hills District Council have determined that this will require an Environmental Impact Assessment,
· Leaflet for new owners – A leaflet will be given to prospective new purchasers of land or property in the AONB to introduce the AONB and signpost them to the AONB Partnership if they are considering any changes.
RESOLVED that the Committee note these updates and contact the AONB Unit if they wish to be involved in any consultations or to receive further information on any of these items.
Verbal Reports from Partners
Paul Esrich, AONB Unit - a new report from the CPRE and the NAAONB reviewing housing and development pressures in the nations's AONBs had just been released. It showed that there has been a very significant increase in the number of planning applications and approvals for housing within AONBs over the last five years. The report can be viewed at: http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/countryside/landscapes/item/4707-beauty-betrayed
James Hervey-Bathurst, Eastnor Estate - a report had been completed with the help of Natural England about Acute Oak Decline on the Estate. This is available to members of the Partnership on request (please contact Paul Esrich). Money had been allocated from the Sustainable Development Fund for interpretation panels at the proposed new visitor centre. Larger landowners were likely to see a decrease in income following Brexit and so were likely to look at ways of intensifying production on their land.
Duncan Bridges, Malvern Hills Trust –There was concern about the future of grazing on the Hills and Commons if grant schemes were to stop/change. Winter works were underway with scrub management and tree removal at Thirds Wood on Jubilee Drive. The Board of the Malvern Hills Trust had agreed to take to Parliament proposed changes to its duties and structure of the Board. The proposed changes would be sent around all stakeholders.
Nicola Forde, CPRE – The CPRE have commented on development proposals such as housing in Ledbury which affects the setting of the AONB and also a static Caravan Park. A Conference was held last month to discuss concerns about Brexit.
Wayne Barnes, Forestry Commission – the Commission is promoting an expansion of woodland in England. Money is available, for example through the Woodland Carbon Fund.
Dick Bryant, Earth Heritage Trust – Natural England had given money to enhance geodiversity in the AONB to help pay for work which volunteers could not manage.
Jerry Fryman, Worcestershire Association of Local Councils – Castlemorton had plans to improve its hall.
Dates of Future Meetings
20 April 2018
9 November 2018
Both at 10.00am in the Council Chamber at Malvern Hills District Council.
Meeting Dates for 2018 were
20 April 2018 and
9 November 2018.