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A collective response to the revisions to A417 plans

From: Cotswolds Conservation Board, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, National Trust and Natural England

Highways England has announced its revisions to the A417 Missing Link road scheme, addressing some of the concerns raised in feedback during the October 2019 public consultation.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, National Trust and Natural England are urging Highways England to use this opportunity to ensure the revised road scheme not only addresses safety and congestion issues but also brings the best outcomes for local communities and benefits the natural beauty, diverse wildlife and unique heritage of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB).

Each of the four organisations has proactively engaged with the scheme since it was first proposed and, although collaborative work has resulted in positive changes, there is now an opportunity to ensure the design of the new road meets the landscape-led vision, objectives and design principles that have been agreed by Highways England and other stakeholders, as well as the Government’s desire to ‘build better, build greener’.

The importance of nature and outdoor spaces to our health and wellbeing has become even clearer in recent months. So, it’s now more important than ever that we work hard to safeguard opportunities for everyone to explore and enjoy the countryside. This is a special environment that deserves protection. The organisations would like to see the following improvements:

1. People – as well as creating a safer, less congested route, people should have more opportunity to explore and enjoy this outstanding landscape, its ecology and heritage. Existing footpaths and rights of way must be improved so they are accessible for all and new recreational opportunities developed for local communities and visitors.

2. Landscape – to achieve the landscape-led vision, the revised scheme should include mitigation to minimise the adverse impact of new infrastructure, reverse biodiversity net loss, and strengthen landscape connectivity. Equal care should be paid to mitigation measures as to planning requirements.

3. Wildlife – Highways England should maximise opportunities for nature to thrive. Protecting irreplaceable habitats and providing relevant connections so that species can travel across the landscape will avoid negative impacts on biodiversity, strengthen ecological resilience and enhance the special environment of the Cotswolds AONB. Gloucestershire’s economy and people’s quality of life depends upon the health of its natural assets and yet they are declining at unprecedented rate.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, National Trust and Natural England, alongside other key stakeholders, are all eager to help Highways England continue to seek the best way to deliver a landscape-led scheme that leaves a positive legacy for future generations, the landscape, wildlife and heritage.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to resolve the challenges of the present road and protect the environment within which it sits. Further collaborative thinking and a true commitment to ‘build greener’ will ensure that the huge potential here can be fully realised.

Background Information:
Information about the A417 ‘Missing Link’ scheme can be found on Highways England’s website.

Cotswolds Conservation Board:
The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high-quality landscape. The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members – 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State. The Cotswolds is the third largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust:
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) works closely with local communities, landowners and partners to deliver much-needed conservation work across more than 1000 hectares of nature reserves, and within the wider landscape of Gloucestershire. This vital work safeguards these remaining special wild places and drives nature’s recovery, working towards a future where the countryside thrives once more with wildlife, wildflowers, trees, butterflies, insects and animals. The charity also delivers a vast range of events and projects across the county, as well as providing free public access to its nature reserves, enabling people from all backgrounds to spend time outdoors and get closer to nature.

National Trust:
The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 778 miles of coastline and
hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The National Trust works in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to look after and protect Crickley Hill, its archaeology, limestone grassland, ancient woodland and diverse wildlife.

Natural England:
Established in 2006, Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

For further press information and images please contact:
Cotswolds Conservation Board –
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust –
National Trust –
Natural England –

‘Volunteer army’ to replace dying trees with 2,020 new saplings

A grassroots project will see Gloucestershire people growing new trees to replace the hundreds of thousands being wiped out by ash dieback.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Cotswolds AONB will lead an army of volunteers to grow at least 2,020 saplings at home over the coming year in a scheme dubbed ‘Ourboretum’.

According to the Woodland Trust, 95% of British ash trees will vanish over the coming years because of ash dieback, an incurable disease. Gloucestershire is home to hundreds of thousands of ash trees – it is the third most common tree in the county – and experts fear the loss could have a disastrous effect on the landscape and wildlife.

Ourboretum, launched today, will begin replacing the lost ash trees with oak, beech and hazel.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire communities journalist Chris Sandys said: “Our landscape is part of what makes Gloucestershire such a great place to live and it’ll be so sad to see it torn apart by ash dieback. But tying our communities with our countryside for generations to come is a thrilling prospect.

“Ourboretum is about getting people from all over Gloucestershire outside, enjoying our county and growing together for the good of the next generation.

“We plan to plant seeds to grow at least 2,020 trees in 2020 and we need your help.”

Garden designer and broadcaster Chris Beardshaw, an Ourboretum ambassador, added: “Ourboretum is such a fabulous idea. It’s beautifully simple; we go and collect seeds and we create a new generation of trees and woodlands in our own communities for our children and their children to enjoy.

“For me, being an ambassador for Ourboretum is a huge privilege. Growing trees is what got me started in my love of not just horticulture and designing landscapes, but of the countryside and really celebrating who we are as a nation and our links to the countryside.”

How to get involved:

  • Volunteers will be asked to collect seeds, during autumn, using the guidance online
  • Visit to find more information and tips for growing seeds at home
  • These home-grown saplings will then be planted across Gloucestershire next year. BBC Radio Gloucestershire and the AONB will identify locations where the fledgling trees can be planted and aim to log each one to create a permanent record of where they are growing

Mark Connelly, Land Management Officer at Cotswolds Conservation Board who look after the AONB, said: “We’re delighted to be working with BBC Radio Gloucestershire to launch Ourboretum. The loss of ash trees across the landscape in Gloucestershire will leave a devastating mark. The more trees we can plant to replace those we lose, the better chance we will have to benefit both the landscape and the wildlife that lives in it.”

To find out more contact or go to


Notes to editor:

For more information contact Jack Pitts on 07834 845545 or

Covid-19 Update 18/5/20

Following the government’s review of the Covid-19 situation on 11/5/20, we would like to offer an update from the Cotswolds Conservation Board. The government has said that we should all still try to stay at home as much as possible, but that we can also now enjoy more outdoor exercise (with members of our own households), and we may travel to open spaces. This is good news – it’s good for our bodies and our minds to get outside and connect with nature.

With this in mind, we’d like to remind those who are looking to enjoy the countryside on their doorstep of the following:

  1. We must still all observe social distancing guidelines, even outdoors and in the countryside.
    If a walking path is narrow, wait for others to pass. Be patient.
  2. Respect those who live here.
    Many of our countryside residents and landowners are older and fit into the ‘vulnerable’ category of those at risk from coronavirus. Help protect their health by remembering good hygiene around gates and stiles, being considerate about where you park, and looking out for and adhering to any route diversions (which may be in place to protect those on farms, for example asking walkers not to go through the yard, or not to go past the house etc).
  3. Plan your visit – try to avoid the honeypot locations (towns and countryside); research where you’re going to park; and check if the locations and car parks you’re heading to are open. Download self-guided walking routes.
  4. Remember the Countryside Code. Stick to it. If you don’t know it, learn it here.
  5. Tread carefully – remember that during lockdown, nature has reclaimed space!
    Please be very careful not to disturb wildlife. This might include ground-nesting birds, wildflowers, or animals that may have moved into areas unexpectedly during lockdown.
  6. Please use your common sense – keep dogs on leads and pick up their mess, don’t release sky lanterns, don’t have barbecues or bonfires, don’t drop any litter.
  7. Many local businesses are still closed – plan ahead, and bring food and drink with you…but please take your litter home!
  8. Many toilet facilities will be closed – please check before visiting.

Take your time, and breathe – these are strange times, but we can take this opportunity to slow down, understand, enjoy and appreciate our surroundings more. Nature has a wonderful ability to help us to heal, and we should make the most of that, and be grateful for it.

Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.

At the time of writing this, the government is still urging us all to stay at home this Easter. Our collective effort is crucial – we must all continue to follow advice and guidance on how to slow the spread of Covid-19 and look after our NHS, and one another.

If you are able to access outdoor green spaces, there’s no doubt that being outside and having the opportunity to connect with nature is good for us. Many of our colleagues and friends in other nature and conservation organisations have been posting up lots of ideas of how to do this. We’ve put together a little collection of these. From wildlife surveying and identifying, to building bug hotels, to going on virtual safaris, we hope you manage to enjoy some of what nature has to offer from the comfort of your home.

It’s vital that we do that in line with government advice though, so if you need a reminder on the guidelines, please click here for the official advice on accessing green spaces.

And remember: stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.

  • Create a haven for butterflies in your garden – and learn to identify visitors
  • Count pollinators in your garden. All you need is 10 mins to watch insects. To Learn how, and see where to send your results
  • Become a back garden bird watcher! RSPB have a fantastic online bird identification tool. See how many different birds you can spot! Or, if you can hear the birds but not see them – use their birdsong identifier instead!
  • Get the buzz! Bumblebee Conservation has a great learning zone online with absolutely loads of fun activities and games for children and families.
  • Do you love whales and dolphins? Head over to ORCA’s at-home interactive lessons, Q&A sessions, and activities.
  • See what you can do at home to help nature and wildlife with NatureHood’s online guide 
  • Is the night sky really dark where you live? If it is, and the weather is clear, can you see the stars? Wrap up warm, take a hot drink into the garden, and learn more about planets, stars, and constellations, and how to identify them here.
  • Want to sit down to watch or listen to something? There are plenty of episodes of BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth available on the iplayer – across a huge range of subjects!
  • Listen to the nation’s favourite, Sir David Attenborough, read us The Peregrine by JA Baker. A masterpiece of nature writing.
  • Go on a three hour safari without leaving the house! Wild Earth has posted a brilliant safari experience on YouTube
  • Wildlife Watch on You Tube – Wednesday sessions for kids to learn about identifying bird song, fun crafts, wildlife gardening & lots more
  • Stay wild at home with great ideas from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust 
  • Become a Nature Doctor and turn your back garden into an Insect A&E with Dr Amir Khan
  • Help Butterfly Conservation with their ongoing mission to help butterflies and moths in the UK by letting them know what you’ve seen in your garden! They’ve even developed an app to make surveying easier!

Image shown by Simon Smith.

Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives. 

It’s a simple message, and we should all be following the guidelines set out by the Government. If you don’t know them yet, or you aren’t clear, have another look here.

Under normal circumstances, we would be encouraging everybody to get outside, get some fresh air, get walking, start exploring. But these aren’t normal circumstances. At the moment, we would urge everyone to do the opposite: stay at home, don’t drive unless it’s essential, do your part. There have been a number of reports locally and nationally of people driving to enjoy beauty spots or to access their exercise, or gathering in groups in parks or areas of countryside. Please don’t do this. Please stay in your local area to get out in the fresh air, or to go for a walk/run/cycle. Please be responsible.

When all this is over, the national landscapes of the UK, our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will be throwing their arms wide open to welcome visitors back. But for now, we are all asking everyone to

Stay at Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.

COVID-19: Update 24/3/20

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation last night (23/3/20) we have now amended our working practices further.

In line with the latest guidance from UK government, the Cotswolds Conservation Board team will now be working from home until further notice. The office will not be open, but it will be staffed by one team member from 10am – 3pm, Mondays to Thursdays.

Please bear with us as we adapt to these new working practices, and as we try to keep up with phone calls. If you are able to email the colleague you need and exchange direct phone numbers, that would be very helpful. All available email addresses are here.

As this situation progresses, we will aim to post all our updates on the Latest News page of our website, and on Facebook and Twitter.