Minutes of Cornwall AONB Partnership meeting held on Thursday 19th June 2014
at 2pm at the Centre of Pendeen, West Penwith
Dr Bob Kirby-Harris Chairman, Cornwall AONB Partnership
Cllr Edwina Hannaford Cornwall Council
Cllr Neil Hatton Cornwall Council
Cllr David Hughes Cornwall Council
Cllr Loveday Jenkin Cornwall Council
Vaughan Robbins Natural England
Ian Kemp National Trust
Patrick Aubrey-Fletcher NFU
Victoria Whitehouse Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Rupert Hanbury-Tenison Country Land and Business Assn (CLA)
Jimmy Scobie Country Land and Business Assn (CLA)
Ed Nancekivell Bodmin Moor Livestock Initiative/Cornwall Development Company
Tim Light Fal River Cornwall
Kevin Bryant Cornwall Council, Direct Services
David Edmondson Cornwall Council, Planning
Colette Beckham Cornwall AONB Partnership Manager
Nigel Sumpter Cornwall AONB Officer
Karen Johns Cornwall AONB Office Manager
Summary of morning field visits
The meeting had been preceded by a presentation at 10.30am that morning by Victoria Whitehouse, Cornwall Wildlife Trust on the First and Last Penwith Landscape Partnership project bid submitted to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) at the end of May 2014 – see attached presentation.
This was followed by morning field visits to nearby Chun Quoit and Chun Castle within Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Chun Downs Nature Reserve. These sites feature in the projects submitted in the First and Last Penwith Landscape Partnership bid to HLF. The Chairman reflected on the field visits where AONB Partners were joined by some of the Penwith Landscape Partnership ‘Shadow Board’ members and an interesting and informative guided tour had been provided by John Moss, Cornwall Ancient Sites Protection Network (CASPN) and Nick Marriott, West Cornwall Reserves Manager, Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
Malcolm Bell, VisitCornwall; David Appleton, Natural England; Hannah Harris, Cornwall Council Transportation; Deborah Boden, World Heritage Site Team; Ann Reynolds and Dan Ratcliffe, Cornwall Council Historic Environment; Environment Agency; English Heritage; Peter Jefferson, CRCC; Kath Statham, Cornwall Council Landscape; Andrew Williams, Local Enterprise Partnership; Mark Summers, Health and Well Being Board; Catherine Leyson, University of Exeter, ESI, Pete Maxted, AONB Unit.
2. Minutes of last Partnership meeting – 5th December 2013
These were agreed a true and accurate record of the meeting. There were no matters arising.
3. Minutes of last Exec Board meeting – 20th March 2014
These were included for Partners’ awareness – there were no matters arising. The Chairman noted that there has only been 1 Exec Board meeting held since last December Partnership, this had partly been due to re-arranging dates to ensure meetings would be quorate.
4. Partner updates Actions
Individual partners provided an update on their organisations’ activity in the AONB including updates on actions in the Management Plan. The following updates were provided:
National Trust – Ian Kemp - Paths for Communities funded project at Penrose Estate, Helston, has been very successful – funding is to improve permissive paths and disabled access. Access paths at Penrose now upgraded, funding is for new rights of way which has been made possible with NT taking on the maintenance of the paths as otherwise CC would not have wished to agree or take on new paths due to current maintenance budgetary constraints.
St Euny Well Way – N Sumpter mentioned working with PAROW. National initiative to change interpretation on major car parks – planning for new interpretation.
Cornwall Councillor David Hughes – School Hill, Mevagissey – affordable housing application – CC Planning Committee recently refused the new planning application. The former judicial review for the previous application on the site included reference to the ‘great weight’ that AONBs have and confirms there is still information and training required for CC Officers and Members on the AONB relating to the National Planning Policy Framework.
Cornwall Council, Planning - David Edmondson – as mentioned at the last Partnership meeting, extra resources have been secured for Neighbourhood Plans work. The Local Plan goes through its final consultation/Planning PAC in October, with the Examination in Public expected in the Spring. There will be an opportunity for the AONB to engage in Town and Parish Council training which will be run by CC Planning. There is a Cornwall Councillors Planning training event being held on 25 June 2014 at Heartlands where the AONB Unit will have a ‘market stall’ display for Councillors awareness/information during the lunch break with other internal and external planning consultee organisations.
Cornwall Wildlife Trust – ERRCIS has just completed a 2 year project surveying intertidal zone of the north coast of Cornwall: 270 km of coastline has been surveyed. Website has been set up inter-tidal discovery website – gives great detail on bio-topes and beach guides – map based website with habitats info on beaches etc. CWT/ERRCIS would like to do same survey for south coast of Cornwall but funding is not yet available for this. AONB Unit will provide link to the new website from the AONB website. An overview of the project is available via http://www.erccis.org.uk/latest_news/intertidal+discovery+project+complete and the fully interactive habitat map is available via http://www.marinedatacornwall.org/intertidal_discovery/HabitatMap
CLA – Jimmy Scobie – CLA is producing a new business policy update and review. Cornwall CLA Branch will be discussing it at its meeting next week – it’s a policy on improvement of sustainability of rural businesses.
CLA – Rupert Hanbury-Tenison – proposed Commons Council on Bodmin Moor – 75% vote of approval by the farming community on Bodmin Moor, so progressing slowly. Disastrous winter for the pony population on the Moor – working hard to tackle the situation with partners e.g. Environmental Health and the Police but it is an ongoing situation and if the Commons Council can eventually be in place it will help management of the situation. AONB could help by reassuring Natural England of the AONB support for the establishment of a Commons Council. How it will be funded is a big issue with the farming community so this needs to be addressed for the long term.
Bodmin Moor Livestock Initiative (BMLI) - Ed Nancekivell – current exemption for pre-movement of cattle tests for TB for cattle on Common Land being moved on and off the Commons, but the exemption will be withdrawn at the end of June and pre-movement of cattle tests will now be a requirement for cattle on Common Land resulting in numerous testing having to take place.
BMLI project which has been active since 2009 is RDPE funded to support sheep farmers’ profitability and to make them less reliant on Single Farm Payments. An Animal Health project is continuing in a smaller way. Worming of lambs (and foetal egg count) experiments have been undertaken and this has proved very economically viable and shown environmental benefits. BMLI are still undertaking very valuable study tours with a trip to Scotland and the Malverns in July. BMLI are currently working with 270 farmers.
Fal River Cornwall - Tim Light – waters of the Fal were recently downgraded which is likely to affect aqua-culture in the Fal e.g. mussel farming - Fal inter-estuary footpath around Carrick Roads would be beneficial – e.g. working with National Trust, Ramblers and the estates and landowners. Dredging is needed since the mud increased over winter. If not dredged, this is likely to result in less boat access on the Fal which would affect economic viability of marine businesses that use the Fal. Harbour Master would need to locate somewhere to deposit dredged material.
NFU – Patrick Aubrey-Fletcher - Environmental Management regarding CAP Reform is taking place – new regime from 2015 – new NELMS scheme will also have an impact on farming businesses and the environment – concern that work done under HLS/Stewardship might be undone. NFU Next Generation scheme – young farmers taking up tenancies, keeping in contact with them to help ensure succession of the younger generation and retaining younger people in the farming sector.
Cornwall Councillor Edwina Hannaford – CC is to appoint a full time Ecologist and 2 new temporary posts to work on Definitive Maps.
Cornwall Councillor Neil Hatton - welcomed the small discrete AONB gateway signs and he has received positive feedback from his parish and suggested letters to Parishes regarding RoW signage. Jimmy Scobie stated that he has reservations on the signs and would not want to see too many introduced into the countryside.
5. Future Structure, Governance and Funding of the Cornwall AONB Partnership
This was an item that needed to be discussed by the full Partnership and not just by the Executive Board. The current MoA expires at end of March 2015. Defra have recently announced that they will not be signing any further MoAs with AONBs. Both Defra and CC have to make significant financial and efficiency savings so the future of the Cornwall AONB Partnership funding is uncertain.
Restructuring of the AONB Unit agreed previously has been delayed due to Cornwall Council issues over agreeing redundancy costs.
The agenda paper detailed the Recommendation that a Task and Finish Group be formed of Partnership members to discuss:
- a renewed commitment to the Partnership from Partners and revision of Statement of Intent
- Structure and Governance review i.e. should a CIO be set up which would enable the AONB to attract alternative sources of funding?
The following points arose during the discussion:
• N Hatton stated that CC adopted the Management Plan in 2011 – it is an essential document to ensure conservation and enhancement of the AONB so without that the AONB would suffer – Value of the Management Plan.
• E Hannaford – supports the AONB and would be happy to be part of the Task and Finish Group when time allows and would like to see the AONB go from strength to strength.
• SWCP Association is a good example of having a core part and a charitable arm that can attract funding and contributions, legacies etc which the AONB Unit cannot attract under the current CC umbrella.
• The AONB Unit has a small amount in the 2014/15 budget earmarked for governance and restructuring work so if a Task and Finish group is set up, there would be a small budget to spend on any facilitation, consultancy etc that may be required.
• T Light mentioned the successful VisitCornwall model in that they have moved to the commercial branding element and also the SWCP have done something similar to promote the brand.
• R Hanbury Tenison – supports the continuation of the AONB which is particularly welcomed on Bodmin Moor.
• The Chairman and C Beckham had a very good meeting with the 2 Defra ministers who are MPs in Cornwall, several months ago although specific lobbying for continued funding was not discussed in detail.
• V Robbins – mentioned working with other AONBs nationally – C Beckham confirmed that the NAAONB network and lobby as a collective voice for all AONBs
• P Aubrey-Fletcher – asked if any Value of the AONB to Cornwall study had been undertaken – C Beckham confirmed that no specific economic valuing exercise has been undertaken – this would be worth exploring jointly with the LEP and LNP to obtain some hard economic evidence. E Hannaford mentioned SWCP data already collected so info from Cornwall specific could perhaps be obtained from that.
• V Robbins reported that Defra/NE are being streamlined further but too early to know the outcome.
• E Hannaford stated that the LNP is the strategic body that should/could be responsible for helping to solve the AONB funding issue
• D Edmondson – knows colleagues in CC that could bring expertise and advice to a Task and Finish group with experience of arms-length companies etc. David will forward suggested names to Edwina and Edwina to forward details to the AONB Unit.
• Examples of good practice (planning decisions etc) - themed around sustainable communities – how we pitch the monitoring
The Chairman summarised that AGREED initial next steps as:
• To form a task group of the Partnership to:
o Renew a commitment to the Partnership and revise Statement of Intent
o Make recommendations on future structure and governance of Cornwall AONB with respect to funding
• The Task and Finish Group to report back in 6 months time with recommendation on the way forward for the Partnership for agreement at the December Partnership meeting.
• E Hannaford, K Bryant, V Whitehouse or colleagues, and the Chairman to form the Task and Finish Group. (Ian Kemp will take it back to NT to discuss who at NT could rep on the Task and Finish Group). AONB Unit to arrange first meeting. Malcolm Bell (VisitCornwall) and David Rodda (Cornwal Agri-food Council) also expressed an interest in involvement although they were not able to be present at the meeting. AONB Unit
6. AONB Landscape Condition Monitoring Report
N Sumpter, AONB Officer, presented a summary of the findings from the Cornwall AONB Landscape Condition Monitoring project (contract undertaken by Land Use Consultants (LUC)). A brief 2 page summary of the key findings was circulated to Partners at the meeting, and the full report containing all new data is on the Cornwall AONB website http://www.cornwallaonb.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/5683_AONB%20Monitoring%20Report_20131220_V4_0LR.pdf. This Phase 2 work has revisited the baseline work undertaken in 2009 and provides an analysis of change in the condition of the landscape during the past 4 – 6 years. Unfortunately there has not been sufficient funding to pay for the online AONB Atlas to be updated with the new data, but Partners were asked to read the report on the website as the information and data is relevant to all partner organisations.
The Partnership supported the issuing of a press release but care needs to be taken to ensure the press release says the right things.
E Hannaford mentioned second home ownership in the AONB – she has been asked to sit on a group to discuss implementation of a new ‘use’ class for second homes for areas that are already under pressure from second homes that that area’s viability is being affected – sustainable communities.
Examples of best practice on sustainable development in the AONB would be something for the Unit and Partnership to focus on in order to promote and raise awareness of the types of development and design of developments etc that the AONB does support.
7. AONB Unit activity report – Colette Beckham went through the report, highlighting some of the key activities the AONB Unit has been involved in over the past 6 months which includes projects, planning and communications.
Roseland volunteering project – a bid was submitted to Heritage Lottery for a volunteering hub to be piloted in the Roseland area to help conserve heritage assets in the area etc and provide training and skills for people in the local community. Unfortunately, the AONB Unit has just been informed the project was not successful, but the bid will be revised and will be resubmitted.
AONB Awareness Monitoring exercise – an A5 summary booklet of the AONB Unit project was circulated to partners at the meeting. The report interprets the findings of surveys undertaken both from face-to-face surveys of the general public at public events during 2013 and online questionnaires completed during 2014. The work was commissioned by the AONB and undertaken by Julian Powis, a former volunteer with the AONB team. The summary and full report of findings will shortly be available on the Cornwall AONB website. The information will be used as a baseline for future monitoring.
8. Any Other Business - none
9. Date of Next meeting – Thursday 11th December 2014 – timings and venue to be confirmed.