04 January 2018
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30 November 2017
Concerns are growing for the health of the Chilterns chalk streams as low groundwater levels leave long sections of river high and dry.
15 November 2017
A new independent report on housing development in England's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty shows that AONBs are under unprecedented pressure for housing development. Most of this pressure is being experienced by just a few AONBs, with 79% of all housing permitted in AONBs falling in just eight AONBs clustered in the South East and South West of England. The Chilterns is one of these; the data shows that planning permission has been granted for over 1,200 homes in the last 5 years in the Chilterns AONB. The full picture would be higher still, as the report’s data only included larger developments (ten or more homes).
Today we have published a position statement on the cumulative impacts of development in the Chilterns AONB, noting the multiple pressures upon this protected landscape from HS2, new housing, and expanded airports, all of which have implications for the natural beauty, health, intactness and tranquility of the landscape. Our position statement notes that:
- We will take the long view – incremental change over the next 50-100 years could, cumulatively, result in the loss of special qualities in the long term;
- We will take a holistic and landscape scale view of the place and our responsibilities for the place – protected landscapes are complex webs of interconnecting geology, ecology, heritage, natural capital and special features which do not function well ecologically or for society if many small pieces are lost
- To fulfil our primary duty, we will take a position on the total quantity of development, siting and quality of development, pressures from development such as water abstraction and traffic, and impacts on special qualities including noise and light pollution
- We cannot only consider each local authority’s need for development, we must consider total quantity of development, and the cumulative impacts of development, across the AONB and to all the special qualities.
Our report is available here.
18 October 2017
A Project to restore part of the River Bulbourne to its former glory won a prestigious Conservation Award this week.
12 October 2017
We are delighted to announce that National Lottery funding has been secured for a major new project to discover more about Iron Age hillforts and prehistoric chalk landscapes! The Beacons of the Past – Hillforts in the Chilterns Landscape, has just been given the go-ahead thanks to £695,600 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
People have been living in the Chilterns area for thousands of years, raising their families, trading and protecting their wildlife across this chalky landscape. Human habitation across the centuries has left its mark, and the Chilterns has one of the densest concentrations of ancient hillforts in the country, with 22 scattered across the hills and valleys. Some, such as Ivinghoe Beacon, near Tring, are well-known and visible, many others are hidden in woodland or perhaps, excitingly, remain to be discovered.
For the first time ever, we will be able to survey the whole of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) using LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology which will uncover hidden archaeological features using aircraft-mounted lasers. Together with traditional ground-based surveys, this will allow us to discover much more about the hillforts in the area and reveal more about the history of the Chilterns and our ancestors, including the two distinct tribes that might have lived here.
Following the receipt of a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in June 2016, we have been working with a wide range of partners to develop proposals to inspire people to discover, enjoy and conserve our Chilterns hillforts heritage. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and players of the National Lottery, these proposals will now be put in to action.
Several of the Chilterns hillforts lie at the heart of urban populations and we will be developing specific urban projects to engage local people around these sites such as Desborough Castle in High Wycombe and Waulud’s Bank in Luton. Working with a wide range of partners and volunteers, the project will carry out practical conservation work and will bring the Iron Age to life through a programme of events, educational activities and interpretation. People will be encouraged to visit and discover more about this fascinating period in our history.
The four-year project will be launched in 2018 and there will be plenty of opportunity to get involved. Those interested in being added to the newsletter or in volunteering should email email@example.com.
04 October 2017
There was a full house at the Elgiva Theatre in Chesham last Tuesday to hear from Dame Fiona Reynolds, former Director-General of the National Trust and author of "The Fight for Beauty: Our Path to a Better Future". Guests heard Dame Fiona speak passionately about how the beauty of our environment can enhance lives and about the people throughout history who had fought hard to protect our special places for everyone's benefit.
The need to demonstrate economic value risks crowding out the importance of things that money can't buy and Dame Fiona made an impassioned plea for us all to protect those things that really matter and set out a vision for our environment, our society and our future. She spoke alongside Howard Davies, Chief Executive of the National Association of AONBs, and our Chief Officer, Sue Holden who outlined the value of protected landscapes like the Chilterns and called for action to protect them.
Guests had the chance to sample local produce from Auberge du Chocolat and Chiltern Icecream before the event and there was a well-attended book signing by Dame Fiona after the speeches.
It was an inspirational evening and we thank all those who attended and showed their support for the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
15 September 2017
Outstanding Week is the AONB Family’s week-long programme of events to help people enjoy and be inspired by the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
This year it takes place from Saturday 16th – Sunday 24th September. In the Chilterns we have planned two major events to support Outstanding Week and help people get to know their AONBS. The first is the Chilterns Autumn Walking Festival which offers a wide range of walks, activities and events to help people explore this special area; the second is our Annual Forum on 26th September where we will welcome Dame Fiona Reynolds (former Director-General of the National Trust) alongside our Chief Officer (Sue Holden) and Howard Davies (Chief Executive of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) to explore the fight for beauty in relation to the Chilterns and our protected areas.
AONBs are some of the most beautiful, cherished and outstanding landscapes in Britain. They are vibrant landscapes which offer a wealth of opportunities for everyone to enjoy them. They are open year round and Outstanding Week is a great opportunity for you to get involved and get out into the outstanding countryside on your doorstep.
For more information on AONBs and events taking place across the country during Outstanding Week please visit: http://www.landscapesforlife.org.uk/events/outstanding-week/.
07 September 2017
We were extremely saddened to learn of the death of our longstanding Board Member, Alan Walters MBE. Alan served on the Conservation Board since its inception, representing South Bucks and sat on the Executive Committee since 2005.
He was a Beaconsfield Town Councillor for 14 years and Mayor in 2004 and was South Bucks District Council Chairman between 2010 and 2013. He was also elected to Bucks County Council in May this year.
Alan was a great supporter of our work and of the AONB and we very much appreciate his contribution over the years. Our thoughts are with his family.
(Photo credit: Bucks Free Press)
04 August 2017
Our 2016/17 Annual Review has just been published.
Highlights over the past year include a Chilterns Food and Drink Festival celebrating local growers, producers and suppliers; development of the first Chilterns-wide walking festival to encourage healthy recreation and increase tourism; and the development of two Heritage Lottery Funded projects – one to conserve the landscape and develop skills and volunteering to protect the Chilterns for the long-term through a major partnership scheme and one to discover more about our ancient hillforts. We have also been working hard to protect Chilterns woodlands and the rare chalk streams that flow through the area, as well as supporting rural skills.
Thanks to all of our many partners as we look forward to the year ahead.
25 July 2017
If you’re looking for a summer holiday activity, what better way to get out into the countryside, learn about nature and help protect butterflies.