Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – AONB
Do you know that as a village we are surrounded in part by the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)? To the North of the High Road over to Shillingford Bridge, we are in the AONB. To the south, including Mackney, we are out of it. On the map, our part of the AONB seems like a tiny crooked finger pointing north and east from the main area which extends far to the south and west of Blewbury.
The North Wessex Downs was designated an AONB in 1972 as a protected landscape, one of more than 30 in England. Between Devizes in the west and Reading in the east, Didcot in the north and Andover in the south, this historic landscape contains ecologically important habitats from chalk grasslands to river valleys with water meadows. It includes 66 sites of Special Scientific Interest, world heritage sites such as Avebury and locally the Wittenham Clumps. Over 80 per cent is farmland and 13 per cent is wooded, but it is subjected to large developmental pressures on the fringes of urban areas such as Swindon.
The activities of the AONB are piloted by a small team of professionals led by a Council of individuals and representatives of organisations. Its funding comes from a number of sources and is used to assist projects, develop guidance (such as on siting of wind turbines), produce booklets and promote parish plans. For example, the 2nd Edition of the Brightwell cum Sotwell Parish Conservation Plan, distributed in June 2013, was partly funded by the AONB.
On 25 March, at 8pm, Oliver Cripps will be talking about his work for the AONB. “Landscape in Peril” is the title of his talk to which everyone is welcome. It is one of the two talks put on each year by the Environment Group and this one is also the AGM of the Group. Please come.
More Wet Weather
As I write, some 300 flood warnings are in force across the UK. Oxford is cut off from the south and west and the Thames covers much of the land which is usually visible upstream and downstream of Wallingford Bridge. Over 90mm of rain was recorded in December. January has already seen a number of violent storms with thunder, lightning and hail. Is this climate change?
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