Minutes of Cornwall AONB Partnership meeting held on Thursday 11th December 2014 at 1.30pm at the National Trust’s Regional Offices, Lanhydrock, nr Bodmin
Bob Kirby-Harris Chairman, Cornwall AONB Partnership
Cllr Edwina Hannaford Cornwall Council
Cllr David Hughes Cornwall Council
Cllr Loveday Jenkin Cornwall Council
John Holmes Natural England
Peter Jefferson Cornwall Rural Community Charity
David Rodda Cornwall Agri-food Council/Cornwall Development Company
Patrick Aubrey-Fletcher NFU
Catherine Leyshon University of Exeter (Geography Dept)
Jimmy Scobie CLA
Kevin Bryant Cornwall Council, Head of Direct Services
David Edmondson Cornwall Council Planning
Colette Beckham Cornwall AONB Partnership Manager
James Evans Cornwall AONB Planning Officer
Karen Johns Cornwall AONB Office Manager
Summary of morning presentation – Environmental Growth Strategy for Cornwall
Rachael Bice, Cornwall Council’s Strategic Environment Manager, attended the morning session of the Cornwall AONB Partnership meeting to present the new document - Environmental Growth for Changing Cornwall 2015-2050 and to undertake a consultation discussion with partners.
David Appleton, Natural England; Andrew Williams, LEP; English Heritage; Hannah Harris, Cornwall Council Transportation; National Trust; Kath Statham, Cornwall Council Landscape/Public Space Team; Joyce Duffin, Cornwall Councillor; FWAG; Malcolm Bell, VisitCornwall; Victoria Whitehouse, Cornwall Wildlife Trust;
Rupert Hanbury-Tenison, CLA; Tim Light, King Harry Ferry; Ann Reynolds, Cornwall Council Historic Environment ; Cllr Neil Hatton, Cornwall Council
2. Minutes of last meeting (19 June 2014) – were agreed to be a true and accurate record. The following matters arose:
Page 2, Item 4, Cornwall Wildlife Trust/ERCCIS – a link to the inter-tidal discovery map based website (providing detailed information on bio-topes and habitats on beaches etc) is not yet available from the Cornwall AONB website – AONB Unit will follow this up with Cornwall Wildlife Trust/ERCCIS.
Page 5, item 6, AONB Landscape Condition Monitoring report – the AONB Unit wrote a press release and an article was published in the West Briton.
3. Partner Updates
Partners provided an update on their organisations’ activity in the AONB including updates on actions in the Management Plan. The following updates were provided:
Cornwall Wildlife Trust – Victoria Whitehouse had sent her apologies for the meeting so Colette Beckham read out an email from Victoria:
• The Penwith Landscape Partnership Board will re-submit the bid application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The application to HLF is from the Board with the lead partner (applicant) as Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
• Cornwall Wildlife Trust is continuing its focus on management of landscapes at a catchment scale through engaging farmers and landowners. In the coming year it is anticipated to be delivering landscape scale conservation work in West Cornwall around Drift Reservoir, in the Cober Catchment, in the East and West Looe Catchment and in the Falmouth Reservoirs Catchment.
• Cetacean conservation programme continues through running the Marine Strandings Network and Seaquest marine sightings programme. Also intend to deliver a bottlenose dolphin photo id project subject to funding.
• Cornwall Good Seafood Guide to be launched in Spring 2015, the guide will provide clear and accurate information to help us all make environmentally informed decisions when purchasing locally caught seafood.
• Continue to host the Catchment Partnership for Cornwall in liaison with the Local Nature Partnership.
Cornwall Councillor Edwina Hannaford – has maintained Planning and Environment Strategy in the recent Cabinet Portfolio changes. Cllr Joyce Duffin had been nominated as new Portfolio for AONBs but debate is still happening at Cornwall Council as to whether Edwina should still keep Cornwall AONB in her portfolio as it is a very strategic AONB, but agreement has yet to be reached on this.
Cornwall Council Planning, David Edmondson - thanked AONB Unit for attending the Planning conferences for Cornwall Councillors and Town and Parish Councillors. David also confirmed that further work is being progressed with the Unit and the Local Plan team with regard to landscape sensitivity and capacity assessment of a number of larger settlements in/adjoining the AONB. He also advised that it had been agreed by the Local Plan team that the new Cornwall AONB Management Plan will be adopted as an SPD.
Edwina Hannaford added that she has worked with Natasha Costello, new Cornwall Council Ecologist regarding SPD for biodiversity aspects. Colette confirmed that she works with Natasha on the Biodiversity Action Plan Partnership, Planning Working Group.
University of Exeter, Geography Dept - Cate Leyshon – continues on the Linking the Lizard group and the work undertaken by PHD Student, Tim Walker, has worked well. Also involved in the Helford Marine Conservation work
NFU – Patrick Aubrey-Fletcher - members and farmers are currently preoccupied with new payment schemes. NFU working with Cornwall Council Countryside Access section regarding cross field footpaths management issues to alleviate livestock issues.
Natural England, John Holmes – work around Marine Protected Areas – recommending an SPA for birds in the Fal area. Work on Stewardship schemes. There will be a new site based scheme relevant for AONB areas, similar to HLS and there will be an actual AONB scheme and a small capital scheme. 70% of land was under a scheme, but it is likely with adjustments that only around 45% of land will be under schemes in future. Historic Environment schemes have been important part of agri-environment schemes in the past and how they can continue to be. Colette Beckham asked if there is any possibility of NE doing a mapping exercise to show scheme coverage and term which will also depict areas of the AONB where land is set to come out of schemes – John Holmes, confirmed such mapping is available and he will forward to the AONB Unit.
CRCC, Peter Jefferson – Treviglas and Tretherras secondary schools in Newquay are very engaged in Neighbourhood Planning (although these schools are outside of the AONB area), this could be an opportunity for the AONB to link with these schools regarding Neighbourhood Planning in the future.
CRCC produced a short 2 - 3 minute film about the proposed work of the Penwith Landscape Partnership project – which will be used to help attract HLF funding etc by showing what the project hopes to achieve.
Community Transport Partnership with Cornwall Council – CRCC just celebrated its 1st anniversary on this joint project – linking with elderly and other vulnerable groups to provide transport
Fishing project – Coastal Chris (formerly Chris the Fish) – remit is to help coastal communities obtain funding to ascertain projects to help with viability of those fishing communities.
Cornwall Councillor Loveday Jenkin - Cornwall Ancient Tree Forum – Fowey Landscape project – AONB support on this would be valuable - Buglife and Woodland Trust are amongst partners in this project.
National Trust – not able to attend this part of the day’s meeting – but Bob Kirby-Harris stated that they are nationally looking to focus more on ‘landscape’ in their work. Also mentioning their Shifting Shores initiative looking at coast defences, sea level rise etc. Good example of this in the AONB is the car park at Godrevy which is a key income generator for the Trust, is likely to be lost within 5 years’ time.
Cornwall Agri-food Council - David Rodda – AONB helped refresh for agri sector – Board is looking at comments and how EU funds may help support that
EU funding – David Rodda – Defra funding – national countryside productivity scheme (forestry grants, skills grants); Leader – 4 LAG groups in Cornwall which between them cover the whole of the Cornwall AONB area. Also LEP – 9.4 M for Growth programme – grants for businesses, tourism, broadband roll out, - hoped that all Defra schemes will be available from April 2015, but the larger EU funding is delayed, but hopefully will be up and running by June 2015.
4. Future Structure, Governance and Funding of the Cornwall AONB Partnership
Minutes of the 3 Task and Finish Group meetings that had been held since the last Partnership meeting, were included with the agenda papers for partners’ awareness.
Cornwall Council reviewed its funding to AONBs in the recent budget consultation and has now committed funding to end of 2015/16. Cornwall Council will review its funding commitment again once funding from Defra beyond 2015/16 is known, post May 2015 General Election. Whilst Defra is expected to continue to fund AONBs, it is also expected that public funding will continue to reduce annually in the future so alternative funding sources and income generation is necessary.
Income generation – currently the AONB Unit being hosted by Cornwall Council, means the Unit cannot cost recover on projects and cannot make a profit. The AONB Unit also have difficulty promoting branding as it is perceived by many to be Cornwall Council core work so difficult to attract donations, visitor giving and business sponsorship for example.
The agenda paper summarised the recommendations arising from the Task and Finish Group meeting discussions (para 5.1 to 5.3 in the agenda paper) i.e. the Task and Finish Group agreed that ‘no change’ regarding AONB work is not an option.
Full cost recovery on projects – AONB Unit to look into possibility of this as AONB Unit is only hosted by Cornwall Council – so perhaps full cost recovery could be an option.
Recommendation 6 – D Rodda stated that it would be appropriate to add ‘new staff could be hosted by different organisation’ even if existing staff remain hosted by CC for short term.
Peter Jefferson mentioned New legislation/guidance /body not under The Cabinet Office, and he will forward link regarding this to the AONB Unit. P Jefferson
Recommendations 1 – 7: were AGREED by the partners as set out in the agenda paper, namely:
o That the Cornwall AONB Partnership opens and continues a dialogue with environmental/landscapes partnerships in Cornwall with a view to closer joint working, and income generating and sharing of resources.
o Current CAONB Partnership structure continues at the present time, but at some point this could be reviewed.
o That the Partnership investigates the possibility of using existing body (there are a number of possible existing organisations to sound out) at least in the interim for the funding work. This would be an opportunity for “market testing” income generation for AONB work
o At the same time, explore possibility of setting up a new body to enable income generation, including checking on any other partnerships that might be thinking about having something similar e.g. VisitCornwall, LNP
o Further work needs to be done by the Partnership to work up more detail on income generation e.g. all possibilities, reality testing and prioritising best options
The current AONB staff team remains at Cornwall Council in the short term, continuing to deliver its current functions. However, there will be options to explore in the medium term, such as another organisation hosting the staff.
o At the June 2014 Partnership meeting, the T&F Group was also tasked with looking into a renewed CAONB agreement document as the previous Statement of Intent has expired and the Memorandum of Agreement ends in March 2015, but the Group has not yet had chance to discuss this in any detail.
o The Group agreed and recommends that a new Partnership Agreement should be drafted and agreed by email by The Exec Board and all partners and then launched at the CAONB Annual Conference in March 2015.
5. Cornwall AONB Business Plan 2015-2017
Colette Beckham gave a presentation on the new Business Plan 2015-2017 highlighting the Strategic Direction and Activity Overview. The Business Plan outlines the desired outcomes for Partnership Activity and details collaborative activity for the AONB Unit and Partners.
EU funding – Leader/LAG funding – D Rodda clarified some technical details regarding the new EU funding guidelines and cross-county projects. Full detail is not yet known, but worth flagging up the possible issue with match funding rules before the AONB can project plan.
J Scobie stated reservations on charging for planning advice for example, as people are being asked for money so often already for services. John Holmes added that Natural England has experience of setting charging rates and offered advice on helping with this. The Unit would look at charging different rates for different sectors.
Cornwall AONB Photo library – D Rodda suggested a small income generator could be charging for people using photos from the Cornwall AONB image library as there are many good quality images which people would wish to purchase.
Recommendations were agreed as set out in the agenda paper, namely:
That the Cornwall AONB Partnership discusses and agrees the strategic direction of the Business Plan.
Partnership devolves responsibility to the Executive Board to finalise the Business Plan and accompanying budget and submit to Defra with the annual funding application.
6. Cornwall AONB Management Plan Review
The agenda paper focussed on the initial scoping exercise of the Management Plan Review. Findings from the scoping exercise will then inform the detail of stakeholder and community engagement required.
Under para 2.3 Engagement with Stakeholders – D Rodda suggested that other land users to be included e.g. extraction companies
There will be an extra Partnership meeting arranged for Spring 2015 to discuss and agree the process following the scoping report, which will include a Partnership Workshop for all partners to discuss and agree.
Proposed Timetable –it was agreed that ‘Draft Plan reported to Partnership Dec 2015 for agreement and sign off’ to be added into the proposed timetable as detailed on agenda page 11.
Partners agreed it would be advisable to get the draft Management Plan in the Cornwall Council Committee calendar early to ensure it is considered and discussed in good time e.g. at appropriate PAC meetings.
John Holmes suggested that the new Cornwall Environmental Growth Strategy process could be used as guidance for the consultation process of the AONB Management Plan Review, which would be more up-to-date than older guidance from Defra.
Also use other scoping reports from other AONBs that have recently undertaken their Management Plan Reviews to help with best practice and guidance with undertaking scoping on the Cornwall AONB Review.
Geography Students at Exeter University – it was suggested that students could help with the scoping exercise during their 2 weeks work that they can undertake at the end of term.
Recommendations 4.1 – 4.4 set out in the agenda paper were AGREED, namely:
That the Partnership agrees to devolve responsibility for the steering of the Management Plan review to the Executive Board.
That Partnership discusses and agrees the initial scoping and preparatory work for the Management Plan review.
That Partnership discusses and agrees stakeholders.
That Partnership discusses and agrees the draft timetable for the review process.
7. Unit Activity Report
Colette Beckham expressed her thanks to the Partnership members and officers who sat on the Task and Finish Group to discuss Future Governance, Structure and Funding of the Cornwall AONB Partnership – it was not an easy task but their input was invaluable.
Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP) – Cllr Edwina Hannaford enquired whether there is capacity to work with Polperro Community Council who is looking to develop a NDP. The AONB Unit confirmed that Polperro is on a list of settlements for capacity assessment as part of the evidence base for the Cornwall Local Plan for consideration.
Annual Cornwall AONB Conference – will be on Saturday 7th March 2015. Venue yet to be agreed – partners suggested Heartlands or Nancarrow Farm at Marazanvose on the A30 as possible venues.
8. Any Other Business – none
9. Date of Next Meeting – Thursday 11th June 2015 (subject to checking Cornwall Council Committee meetings dates once these are released). There will also be an additional Partnership meeting/workshop arranged for the Spring 2015 to discuss the Management Plan Review.