Minutes of Cornwall AONB Partnership meeting held on Thursday 11th June 2015 at 10.00am at the Mount Pleasant Eco Park, Porthtowan
Bob Kirby-Harris Chairman, Cornwall AONB Partnership
Cllr David Hughes Cornwall Council
Cllr Loveday Jenkin Cornwall Council
John Holmes Natural England
Patrick Aubrey-Fletcher NFU
Jimmy Scobie CLA
Victoria Whitehouse Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Ian Kemp National Trust
Daniel Ratcliffe Cornwall Council, Historic Environment Service
Colette Beckham Cornwall AONB Partnership Manager
James Evans Cornwall AONB Planning Officer
Karen Johns Cornwall AONB Office Manager
Cllrs Joyce Duffin* and Edwina Hannaford*, Cornwall Council; Hannah Harris*, Cornwall Council Transportation; Peter Jefferson*, CRCC; David Appleton, Natural England; Andrew Williams, LEP; Historic England; Kath Statham, Cornwall Council Landscape/Public Space Team; David Edmondson, Cornwall Council Planning; Kevin Bryan, Cornwall Council Head of Direct Services; Rachael Bice, Cornwall Council Strategic Environment; Kate Leyshon, University of Exeter; David Rodda, Cornwall Agri-food Council
(Note: * these members/officers gave apologies for the morning but did attend the afternoon Management Plan Review Workshop sessions)
Minutes of last meeting (11 December 2014) – were agreed to be a true and accurate record. The following matters arose:
Page 2 , Item 2, Cornwall Wildlife Trust Intertidal discovery maps website – link not yet made to AONB website, V Whitehouse will forward the link so this can be actioned.
Victoria Whitehouse/AONB Unit
Page 3, item 3, Natural England, Agri Environment Schemes mapping – J Holmes had thought relevant team would be in touch with AONB Unit re mapping – but he will follow this up
Minutes of last Exec Board (14/4/15)
Page 2, item 2, Planning Protocol – AONB Unit have been notified that the AONB will be consulted on all applications within the AONB as Cornwall Council refrained from following the previous Protocol due to cost implications. However, this means that there will be no consultation on sites adjacent to the AONB which may harm the AONB setting. At present the Unit is replying on notifications from parishes and members of the public.
David Hughes suggested that AONB Unit send a letter to CALC members to let them know that parish councils can contact the Unit for planning advice, or at least to make the Unit aware of a planning application that we may or may not be aware of.
The AONB Unit would also like to have the opportunity to train planning officers in landscape character and NPPF. Discussions have been had with David Edmondson regarding the Unit providing training sessions, but Cornwall Council has yet to agree this.
David Hughes stated that the definition of ‘major’ planning application is a significant issue to Councillors when making decisions on applications. If it is classed as ‘major’ then Councillors have greater weight to regard to the AONB as they know it is a major application.
1. Management Plan Review 2015 – results of scoping study and next steps
The agenda paper set out the main suggested changes made by Land Use Consultants as a result of the Scoping Study they undertook on the Management Plan Review exercise. Partners considered the suggestions and made the following points during their discussions:-
Climate Change and Weather Events – partners felt this could be seen as a positive as well as a negative, as it will allow farmers/landowners to think about addressing climate change to benefit the cost effectiveness and viability of their farms. Industrial future of farms – gates being widened, hedges removed etc is likely to be a future issue of the AONB landscape.
Policies such as farm diversification, land management for benefit of nature, the scoping report suggested they are transferred from Farming, Food and Forestry chapter to Sustainable Economic Development, Natural Capital and Planning and Development chapters. The Scoping Report suggests not having specific policies in the Farming, Food, Forestry chapter (or even having this chapter at all) – but this is a decision for the Partnership to make. Partners felt that Farming, Food and Forestry chapter is important and should remain as farmers/landowners are key to the AONB landscape.
The purpose of the Management Plan and who it will be used by must be considered. It needs to be useable and contain some hard-hitting policies to ensure they are tight and focussed. How can the Plan help farms and businesses raise their incomes?
LEP – EU funding – suggested that the Chairman and Colette Beckham should arrange to meet with the LEP. Colette is also in discussions with the LEP to attend a near future Board meeting regarding the Management Plan Review. Colette has also just spoken to David Rodda, who suggested that the Cornwall AONB Partnership Chairman should sit on the LEP Rural Group. The importance of the Cornwall (and Cornwall AONB) brand and how to promote this is also something for discussion with the LEP. -AONB Unit
2. Partnership Agreement 2015/16
The Memorandum of Agreement between Defra, Cornwall Council and National Trust governing the funding of the Cornwall AONB Unit came to an end on 31st March 2015. Defra will not renew MoAs with AONB Partnerships, so it was agreed at the December Partnership that the Cornwall AONB Partnership should draft a new Partnership Agreement for 2015/16 to be signed by all partner organisations. Some partners had already signed the Agreement at the Annual Conference back in March, and other partners present were to sign the Agreement after this meeting today.
Post the general election, we are awaiting to hear what Defra are going to do and their budget position, and to also hear Cornwall Council’s position with the AONBs, and once this is known, it is hoped that a more detailed agreement can be drafted beyond 2016 for a longer period. Once Defra funding levels are known, the Exec Board will help produce a new longer term Partnership Agreement and will bring it to the December Partnership meeting. AONB Unit
Suggested that the Chairman and Colette Beckham should request to meet with George Eustace MP to discuss future funding for AONBs. AONB Unit
Do we know the Natural Capital of the AONB? Some of this is available from mapping, but the ecosystems information is not yet so readily available. It would also help if we know the Economic Value of the Cornwall AONB when talking to MPs and bidding for funding for example.
3. Cornwall AONB Unit Activity Report
Colette Beckham provided a verbal update on Unit activity during the past 6 months.
Staff restructure – as part of the planned Unit restructure, the AONB Officer and Communications Officer posts were made redundant and a new Development Officer has been appointed – Jane Davies, who commences with the Unit on 15th June. The Development Officer will be responsible for project development and looking at income generation, and will also be involved in reviewing the local chapters of the Management Plan.
Road/gateway signage in the AONB – working with parishes on the Lizard Peninsula, the AONB has funded a pilot project to provide AONB awareness signage along roads and gateway sites in the Lizard area.
Dean Quarry, the Lizard, planning application – AONB Unit been involved in commenting on this and Cornwall Council has just refused the application and an Environmental Impact Assessment has been requested.
A30 Temple – AONB Unit has liaised with Cormac on the landscaping scheme to ensure granite is used in the hedging as part of the new dualling works.
Butterfly Conservation – AONB has funded an All the Moor Butterfly Conservation project on Bodmin Moor, to support their HLF development stage project.
AONB website – AONB Unit has redesigned the website which is almost complete. It will be a much more user-friendly, smaller site and annual hosting costs will be significantly less than present website.
West Briton Environment series – AONB Unit continues to co-ordinate the articles for the weekly Environment page of the West Briton. Articles are written by AONB partners and other stakeholders. Articles are always welcome from other partner organisations – it is a 500 word article on nature/environment in the AONB and covering the West Briton area (Roseland, St Agnes, Godrevy, Portreath, Lizard Peninsula). Contact the AONB Unit for more information firstname.lastname@example.org
Cornwall Local Plan – objections to the Local Plan from the Unit remain outstanding, however, further work has been agreed by Cornwall Council. The Unit also continue to work with CC policy officers to reword policies relating to the AONB up until the Local Plan Examination. The Unit attended the Examination which at this stage is dealing with strategic components of the Plan. The Examiner has written to CC requiring further work to assess the impact on the setting of the AONB. The Unit will meet with CC policy officers to discuss approach in taking this forward. AONB Unit
Neighbourhood Planning – AONB funded a pilot project for Porthleven Neighbourhood Planning. The Unit previously supported Roseland Neighbourhood Plan which was a rural area, and now Porthleven which is a more urban area.
Pre-application discussions – Unit has started charging for planning landscape advice given to developers – cannot make a profit but will start to bring in a small amount of income to cover costs.
Golant – 2 turbines which had already gone up (as previously granted) but was subsequently refused by Secretary of State. School Hill, Mevagissey – affordable housing – unanimously refused by Cornwall Council this week. Port Gaverne, demolition and building of new hotel – this development was unfortunately approved.
Mawnan Smith 38 dwellings – appeal allowed. A number of replacement dwellings applications have been supported by officers contrary to the AONB Unit comments.
4. Date of Next meeting – next meeting date tbc for December 2015.