Agenda item

AONB Unit 2021/22 Work Programme


We received a report regarding the proposed business plan for the AONB Unit during the forthcoming financial year, which is subject to new funding agreements with DEFRA and NRW.


In doing so the following information was noted:


·          The table in the report sets out the proposed business plan for the AONB Unit in the form of the Work Programme 2021/2022, including the AONB’s 50th Anniversary during 2021.


·          Activities are assessed for impacts of any potential on-going implications from Covid-19.


·          During the year it is expected that the AONB Unit will remain with about eight full time equivalent (FTE) posts although some staff and roles will change and capacity of the AONB Unit continues to be stretched.


·          Priorities include the development of the AONB Nature Recovery Network Plan, the anticipated implementation of the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme (in England); the delivery of a second year of projects funded through the Welsh Government Sustainable Landscapes Sustainable Places (SLSP) programme, the culmination of the Restoring Our Amazing River project (on the England side of the AONB); ongoing Green Infrastructure and Natural Flood Management projects; and the promotion and administration of grants through the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) and Herefordshire Community Foundation AONB Fund, responding to requirements and impacts from easing of Covid-19 restrictions, while continuing a range of existing activities and projects and retaining enough flexibility to pursue new funding opportunities and develop new initiatives.


·          The core budgets in the Work Programme have yet to be confirmed as new funding agreements are awaited with NRW and DEFRA.


·           The AONB Unit budget, as presented to the AONB Steering Group, is £271,350 and additional funding programmes, grants and match funding is anticipated to exceed £780,000 levered into the AONB during the year.


Having received the report, the following points were noted:


·         A request was made that a dark skies project be considered to combat rising light pollution in the AONB. A visit to the Brecon Beacons National Park could be considered, going forward, as the National Park has experience in this matter.


·         CPRE nationally has recently finished conducting a dark skies observation (6th to 15th February).  This report will be available later in the year. This might be useful in aiding a dark skies project within the AONB.


·         It was noted that there is increasing light pollution across the Wye Valley on both sides of the border.  This is having a detrimental effect on bat foraging behaviour.  Planning conditions therefore, need to be enforced to provide adequate protection for bats.


·         The AONB Manager informed the Committee that the talk that he gave at the Wye Valley AONB 50th Anniversary meeting is available to view on the AONB YouTube channel.  This will be circulated to the Joint Advisory Committee.


·         The AONB Manager stated that several of the Welsh AONBs and National Parks, as well as those across England have undertaken work on developing dark skies projects.  Discussion has been undertaken with these organisations with a view to preparing a way forward for the Wye Valley AONB to address light pollution in the region.


·         The AONB Manager stated that he would be reviewing the format of the AONB business plan, as discussed at a previous Joint Advisory Committee meeting.


We resolved to endorse the AONB Unit Work Programme for 2021/2022.



Supporting documents: