Chiltern Way and Chiltern Heritage Trail – diversion near Newland Park/Chiltern Open Air Museum

Chiltern Way and Chiltern Heritage Trail – diversion near Newland Park/Chiltern Open Air Museum

The footpath running to the west of Newland Park is closed and not due to reopen until January 2022. Please check the local notices and follow the recommended diversion. Download the ChilternWayUpdates PDF to see where the closed path is and for a description of the current diversion route. We have waymarked the current diversion with Chiltern Way signs, but further path closures in the area are possible, so the diversion may change.

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Chiltern Way diversion near Houghton Regis

The footpath used by the Chiltern Way east of Chalk Hill to the north of Houghton Regis will be closed until 2 August 2021. We have waymarked a diversion to avoid the affected path and notices have been placed at each end of the diversion. Download the Chiltern Way Updates PDF to see where the closed path is and for a description of the diversion route.

The closure is due to the “Houghton Regis North” development – a major development which will provide over 7,000 houses, with schools, shops and employment areas over the next 5 years. The Chiltern Society has worked closely with Central Bedfordshire Council and the developers and the 2 miles of the Chiltern Way through the development will be largely unaffected. However, with a development of this scale, temporary disruptions are inevitable. Please check our Chiltern Way page to keep up to date with what is happening on the route.

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Family Friendly Walks Leaflets

Here’s a selection of our favourite family friendly walks for you to enjoy.

We are also including a list of activities. Why not take them along on each walk, to entertain the kids and occupy the family?

Please remember to ALWAYS follow the Countryside Code.

We have linked most of the walks to the ViewRanger Smartphone App which is easy to download to a smartphone or tablet.  For more information on how to get started on ViewRanger, please see link to our website. With Viewranger, not only will you know where you are at all times, you’ll also see loads of interesting information pop-up at points along the route.

 

  1. Amersham to Little Missenden – 3 miles
    There is plenty of wildlife to be seen around Shardeloes Lake. Open pastures where kids can run around. Suitable for more all-terrain strollers. See if you can spot the mistletoe in the trees. Look out for the red berries on the trees, food for birds in the winter. Koko’s gourmet food trailer by the lake.
    Amersham to Little Missenden – 3 miles
    Viewranger – Amersham to Little Missenden – 3 miles
  2. Ashridge Estate Walks – 1 & 2 miles
    Lots for kids to do in the woods. Great views, Café, toilets and bookshop. Lots of wildlife including, if you are lucky, deer.
    Ashridge Estate Walks – 1 & 2 miles
  3. Bourne End and Spade Oak Lake – 3 miles
    A walk along the bank of the Thames. Lots of wildlife and trees. Crosses the railway line. Walk could be shortened to 3km by using the Spade Oak car park.
    Bourne End and Spade Oak Lake – 3 miles
    Viewranger – Bourne End and Spade Oak Lake – 3 miles
  4. Brush Hill and Whiteleaf Walk – 2 miles
    A tour of two of the Chiltern Society’s premier sites. There are great views, ancient barrows and WW1 trenches.
    Brush Hill and Whiteleaf Walk – 2 miles
  5. Chesham Riverside and Woodland Walk – 2.5 miles
    Children’s playground at the start. Riverside and lakeside walk, lots of wildlife.Waterfall. Stepping stones on the way. Woodland for adventurous games. Suitable for more all-terrain strollers, two gates which can be avoided by a short detour.
    Chesham Riverside and Woodland Walk – 2.5 miles
  6. Galley and Warden Hills – Various Options
    This leaflet is great. Has lots of interesting information.
    Galley and Warden Hills – Various Options
    Viewranger – Galley and Warden Hills – Various Options
  7. Greys Court Estate Stile-free Walk – 2 miles
    Easy well signposted route through woodland and open countryside. Parking onsite has to be pre-booked. Park in Rocky Lane or the village and join the walk at Point 9.
    Greys Court Estate Stile-free Walk – 2 miles
    Viewranger – Greys Court Estate Stile-free Walk – 2 miles
  8. Marsworth Waterside walk – 3 mile shorter option
    Plenty of waterside walking with lots of wildlife. Café at the car park.
    Marsworth Waterside walk – 3 mile shorter option
    Viewranger – Marsworth Waterside walk – 3 mile shorter option
  9. Nettlebed – 2.5 miles
    A walk that combines beautiful scenery and ancient beech woodlands that kids to run around in. Care needed crossing the B481 road.
    Nettlebed – 2.5 miles
    Viewranger – Nettlebed – 2.5 miles
  10. Ramble ‘round the Rye – and activity sheet
    Children’s history trail around the Rye in High Wycombe. Activity sheet to complete.
    Ramble ‘round the Rye – and activity sheet
  11. The Chequers Valley Walk – 2.75 miles
    A peaceful walk in the countryside with the opportunity to see wildlife. There is the possibility of seeing a herd of deer or getting close up views of red kites.
    The Chequers Valley Walk – 2.75 miles
    Viewranger – The Chequers Valley Walk – 2.75 miles
  12. West Wycombe Woodland Walk
    Woodland with great views and includes the Hell Fire caves. Very popular route for families.
    West Wycombe Woodland Walk
    Viewranger – West Wycombe Woodland Walk

We do hope you enjoy these walks and activities.

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Chiltern Society – Christmas letter from our Chief Officer

Dear Volunteers, Members and Friends,

As we start to put our Christmas decorations up, we’ve been thinking about how we can help local business recovery in early 2021, and about taking some positives from the imposed changes we had during 2020.

High up that list has been the spike in interest in the countryside, for which on the whole we are delighted. However, we are well aware it has come at a cost, with more people visiting there have been more issues for farmers and those already living and working in the countryside. In early January we will be letting Natural England know our thoughts on the Countryside Code, so when they update it in the Spring of 2021 it will work even better for us here in the Chilterns.

We have also talked at length about the problems facing the leisure, tourism and hospitality sector, and how we could help. We here at the Chiltern Society feel we have had to push and support local businesses more than ever. Our partners at the NFU Mutual Hemel Hempstead agreed, and added they were focussing on how they could provide additional support for Hospitality & Food & Drink, with reports already produced offering more help (see links below). I know Ian at the NFU Mutual’s Hemel Hempstead Office would be delighted to direct you in the right direction if you wanted to know more on the help they may be able to provide to your business, for more information please email ian_crickmay@nfumutual.co.uk.

Whilst we have missed the face to face contact with our volunteers, members and partners, we have managed to keep in touch via video calls which has enabled us to continue as normal – a mid-point balance of the two going forward, would be great!

What has been noticeable is less traffic, which has been more than welcome, and we’re now wondering how we can encourage people to drive less and maintain some of that to reduce the demand on our transport system. Which leads me to thinking about our Cleaner Greener Chilterns conference in November, and our plans to campaign and take action on becoming one of the first regions in England to become a Carbon Neutral. Is that possible by 2025?

One of the strands we are looking at is to see how we rapidly create more space for wildlife by creating a new/improved Wildlife Belt somewhere in the Chilterns, a step change for biodiversity will hopefully mean a carbon sink too.

We have faced enormous challenges this year, and will probably continue to do so for some months ahead, but we will continue to seek comfort from our homes, communities, countryside and environment.  Thank you for your unfailing support, it is very much appreciated.

We would like to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to all our volunteers, members and friends for your continued and valued support and wish you all a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Hopefully see you soon!

Tom (your faithful Chief Officer)

PS: check out our FacebookTwitter and Instagram feeds over the 12-days of Christmas, the team in the virtual office have some treats coming your way.

 

 

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Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for ‘green industrial revolution’

The plans are aimed to put the UK on track to meet its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

The government has also given funding to boost cycling and walking.

  1. Offshore wind: Produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the UK, quadrupling how much it produces to 40 gigawatts by 2030, and supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
  2. Hydrogen: Have five gigawatts of “low carbon” hydrogen production capacity by 2030 – for industry, transport, power and homes – and develop the first town heated by the gas by the end of the decade.
  3. Nuclear: Pushing nuclear power as a clean energy source and including provision for a large nuclear plant, as well as for advanced small nuclear reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
  4. Electric vehicles: Phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and investing in grants to help buy cars and charge point infrastructure.
  5. Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport for the future.
  6. Jet zero and greener maritime: Supporting research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
  7. Homes and public buildings: Making homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, including a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
  8. Carbon capture: Developing world-leading technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030 – equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber.
  9. Nature: Protecting and restoring the natural environment, with plans to include planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year.
  10. Innovation and finance: Developing cutting-edge technologies and making the City of London the global centre of green finance.
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Chiltern Society AGM & Cleaner Greener Chilterns (CGC) Conference

Due to the current restrictions, this year’s AGM, which was followed by a Cleaner Greener Conference, took place online on 7th November.

It is estimated that about 100 people attended via Zoom and they were able to type and send questions and comments which were addressed.

Both events were recorded and have now been uploaded to the Chiltern Society YouTube Channel – here.

There is a full article about the AGM and the CGC conference in our next Chiltern magazine which will be sent out to our Members in the next few weeks.

AGM

The AGM was chaired by Simon Kearey, Chairman with presentations from Tom Beeston, Chief Officer and Luke Jefferys, Treasurer. The meeting was rounded off, as ever, by the President, Michael Rush.

The speakers elaborated on the Annual Report, Treasurer’s Report along with a warm welcome to our new trustees.

Please see copy of the AGM 2020 Presentation.

Cleaner Greener Chilterns Conference

The AGM was followed by a CGC Conference which focussed on climate change.

The Keynote Speaker was Rosalind Readhead, Independent Mayoral Candidate for London who is actively living the “One Tonne Carbon” lifestyle. She was supported by a panel representing various relevant organisations: Steve Broadbent (Bucks Council); Kath Daly (Chilterns Conservation Board); Ed Gemmell (Scientists Warning Europe); John Meech (Council for the Protection of Rural England) and the Chiltern Society’s Dan Turner.

Please see copy of the Cleaner Greener Chilterns Presentation.

Cleaner Greener Chilterns Survey 2020 – we would love to hear from you!

So that we know how our members and friends feel about climate change it would be great if you could spare 2 minutes and complete our CGC survey (any data collected will be anonymised).

As part of the survey we ask you about your carbon footprint, if you are happy to spend a little more time (5 minutes) you can use the WWF-UK  Carbon Footprint Calculator  to do just that.

 

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Covid-19 – November 2020 Update

3rd November 2020

Due to the imminent government announcement regarding the forthcoming four-week lockdown, we are reluctantly postponing all Chiltern Society events, volunteer work parties, cycle rides and walks, until at least the beginning of December.

The office is also closed to the public but our staff remain available remotely to continue assisting you with any enquiries.  Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01494 771250 or by email if you need us.

In the meantime the ‘Love Walking’ section of our website has plenty of walk routes for you to download in both pdf print version or on ViewRanger.

There are also hundreds of Free Walks Leaflets with Social Distance (SD) Friendly Walks that you can enjoy over the coming weeks.

 

 

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PhotoGroup 2021 Online Photography Exhibition – CLOSING DATE REMINDER

Please be reminded that The closing date for entries is midnight on 14 November 2020. The Exhibition will be held on the Chiltern Society PhotoGroup website from 1st January to 31st December 2021. All Chiltern Society members are eligible to enter. Photographs must be taken in the Chilterns, or elsewhere in the UK, plus the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Photos do not have to be taken this year, but they may not have been previously published on our website. So while you may have spent less time behind a camera than in previous years, take another look at your old favourites and choose something you would like to exhibit.

There are five categories:

  • Buildings
  • Flora & Fauna
  • Heritage
  • Landscape
  • Other

How to enter

  • Entrants must be members of the Chiltern Society.
  • Photographs must be taken in the Chilterns or elsewhere in the UK plus the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
  • Each entrant may submit a maximum of 12 photographs with not more than 5 in any one category and may include those taken that reflect members’ experiences of the coronavirus in 2020.
  • Each image must be a high resolution digital file of not more than 6 megabytes.
  • Each photograph must have a unique file name: your initials followed by a unique number starting at 1, the photo location and a letter (B, F, H, L, O) to indicate the category. For example: AB 1 Tring B.
  • Submissions should include entrant’s name and email address and be sent via the PhotoGroup “Sending your photos” web page here, or by email to: exhibition@chilternphoto.org.uk. Captions should be emailed to: webphotos@chilternphoto.org.uk

Click here for the full terms and conditions.

Visit the 2020 Online Photo Exhibition here.

Bob Smith: PhotoGroup Online Photo Exhibition organiser.

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Chalk Stream Summit sees a step change in commitment from Westminster

It was fantastic to host the Chalk Stream Summit today, with Rt Hon Rebecca Pow as Minister leading the call to action. The conference was attended by 150 key people, including a large contingent from both houses in Westminster, the CEO and Senior Directors from across the Water Industry, as well as key delivery partners like the Chilterns Conservation Board. The panel and speakers all acknowledged the step change needed to solve the over abstraction, pollution and waste.

Tom Beeston our Chief Officer, summed it up afterwards by saying:

“It’s a simple problem to resolve, we abstract more water than there is rain, and to add insult to injury we allow leakages, pollution and major development (sic HS2) to wreak further damage. Thankfully we now look to have senior level support and commitment from Westminster and the boards of the water companies to put our Chalk Streams first.

The Chiltern Society and our delivery partner at the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project will be watching closely to see if the commitments result in actions and resources being put in the right place.” 

The full two hour conference can be seen here, and we will be publishing a brief update soon answering all the questions asked at the conference.

We would particularly like to thank our Patron Earl Howe for chairing the summit, to our volunteers who made this all happen, and all those working on the ground to keep our amazing Chalk Streams healthy and alive.  Thank you!

 

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PhotoGroup 2021 Online Photography Exhibition

It’s not too soon to think about sending your entries for the PhotoGroup’s 2021 Online Photography Exhibition. The closing date for entries is 14 November 2020. The Exhibition will be held on the Chiltern Society PhotoGroup website from 1st January to 31st December 2021. All Chiltern Society members are eligible to enter. Photographs must be taken in the Chilterns, or elsewhere in the UK, plus the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Photos do not have to be taken this year, but they may not have been previously published on our website. So while you may have spent less time behind a camera than in previous years, take another look at your old favourites and choose something you would like to exhibit.

There are five categories:

  • Buildings
  • Flora & Fauna
  • Heritage
  • Landscape
  • Other

How to enter

  • Entrants must be members of the Chiltern Society.
  • Photographs must be taken in the Chilterns or elsewhere in the UK plus the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
  • Each entrant may submit a maximum of 12 photographs with not more than 5 in any one category and may include those taken that reflect members’ experiences of the coronavirus in 2020.
  • Each image must be a high resolution digital file of not more than 6 megabytes.
  • Each photograph must have a unique file name: your initials followed by a unique number starting at 1, the photo location and a letter (B, F, H, L, O) to indicate the category. For example: AB 1 Tring B.
  • Submissions should include entrant’s name and email address and be sent via the PhotoGroup “Sending your photos” web page here, or by email to: exhibition@chilternphoto.org.uk. Captions should be emailed to: webphotos@chilternphoto.org.uk

Click here for the full terms and conditions.

Visit the 2020 Online Photo Exhibition here.

Bob Smith: PhotoGroup Online Photo Exhibition organiser.

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Job Vacancy – Fundraising Manager
Job description

As part of the Management Team the Fundraising Manager will lead the fundraising and membership initiatives and contribute to raising awareness of the Chiltern Society work internally and externally.

Our Mission: 

Campaigning – to cut overbearing development, pollution, biodiversity loss, protect our chalk streams and climate change.
Conserving – Chiltern landscapes, nature recovery networks, tranquillity, heritage, footpaths, and all rights of way.
Promoting – enjoyment and environmental understanding of the Chilterns and encouraging health and wellbeing.

What we are looking for:

An enthusiastic individual who loves working within a small dedicated staff and volunteer teams, with strategic partners, local businesses, and the public. The role will provide an opportunity for you to further develop your existing skills in all aspect’s charity fundraising. The successful candidate will need to be a self-starter with excellent communication and project management abilities who is confident and flexible. You will be experienced in some or all aspects of the role, show positive initiative, and want to develop within a small, growing, impactful organisation which has big ambitions.

Someone who will fit well within our small charity staff team, who will not only be able to help grow income and membership in their own right, but they will be able to work with our volunteers, and help raise the profile of the organisation.

To apply email your CV and cover letter no later than 9.00am on Monday August 24th.

Apply here.

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New social-distance friendly walks launched in the Chilterns

The Chilterns Conservation Board and Chiltern Society have developed a series of 23 walks across the Chilterns which are social-distance friendly, avoiding crowded ‘honey-pot’ locations and narrow paths where possible. Between 2 and 6 miles long, the walks start in market towns or villages, with good public transport links or parking facilities, and are being launched to coincide with the re-opening of many pubs and cafes.

The Chilterns has some outstanding food and drink producers and these walks highlight the many farm shops nearby that are open for business and selling Chilterns local specialities to enjoy on a picnic, or to take home- everything from local honey, beer, cheeses, charcuterie, grass fed lamb and much more. The walks were developed by 18 volunteers, all experienced walk leaders who are passionate about the Chilterns and keen to share some of their favourite walks away from the crowds.

SD_Ballinger_Lee_village_green

All the routes take in the beautiful rolling landscapes of the Chilterns, picturesque villages, and plenty of historic interest too, from old drovers routes to iron age hillforts. Discover places with wonderful names like Nanfan Wood, Lilley Hoe and Cobblershill. And some walks start on commons or at recreation grounds with lots of open space, so ideal for families or friends to combine with a picnic and for kids to run around safely.

Annette Venters of the Chilterns Conservation Board said “During Lockdown the Chilterns countryside has been used and enjoyed as never before, bringing comfort and joy to many. The well-used honey-pot sites can get very crowded, making social distancing difficult and putting pressure on the landscape. Luckily, the Chilterns has over 2,000km of footpaths, so there are plenty of quiet places to enjoy. We hope these walks will encourage people to explore the Chilterns and discover new places”.

Many of the walks are stile-free and most are under 4 miles long, making them accessible to many. Whilst we want more people to enjoy the benefits of walking in the Chilterns, we ask them to do this safely and responsibly by, for example, taking litter home, not lighting fires and barbeques, and keeping dogs under control. See here for further guidance.

SEE HERE to view and download the walks.

         

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Update on Hertfordshire County Council’s intention to permanently close 4 crossings of the A41

This note reviews the issues relating to HCC’s intention to permanently close 4 crossings of the A41 at paths NC21, 22, 71 &72 in the parish of Northchurch.

To the best of my knowledge there are no other rural Clearways built since the 1980’s in the locality with any at grade pedestrian crossing points. It is reasonable to assume that motorists do not expect to see pedestrians on a road designed for 75mph traffic, although there are pedestrian warning signs.

The original design of the bypass in the early 1990’s proposed to have no surface crossings, but introduce numerous diversions and some new paths and unmetalled county roads. At the Public Inquiry representations were made and the Inspector asked that crossings be created, as bridge construction would be uneconomic. By the time of the opening of the new road the steps had not been completed. Representations were made to the Eastern Road Construction Unit (then based at Bedford) who very reluctantly put in some steps which were not to British Standards. The long flights had no landings, no hand rails and no barrier at the carriageway. The writer recalls a very nonchalant attitude to their poor design.

In the years after opening the A41 had about 22000 – 25000 vpd. The crossings were maintained and used fairly often. By 2019 management of the road had switched to Herts CC and traffic had grown to 39000 vpd, making it very difficult to cross the road without extended delays. The maintenance of the crossings ceased, the risers on the stairways rooted away and some hand rails collapsed.

From information available the accident rate due to pedestrians is NOT significantly different from other similar dual carriageways, which only form a small proportion of all accidents on such roads.

The DfT Design Manual for roads and Bridges (TA91/05)[2005] Vol5 Section 2 on provision for Non Motorised Vehicles and Traffic shows in Chapter6 Table 6/1 that at grade crossings should NOT be provided where traffic is over 25000 vpd. At present the A41 is 56% in excess of the limit.

It is concluded that that it is not safe to keep the crossings open. It proposed that the crossing at NC21 should be replaced by a footbridge.

The following changes to the local paths network are also proposed, all within the highway boundary similar to the existing path between NC22 and NC21a, and are to be signposted on the ground and marked on maps. Although all will footpaths as a minimum, wherever possible the new paths should be granted additional permissive use for cycling and possibly horses.

  • A new path between Dennys Lane and NC21a on the north side inside the highway boundary.
  • A new path between NC21 and NC22 on the south side inside the highway boundary.
  • A new path between UMCR2 at Elliotts of London, Two Ponds Lane to Hamberlins Lane on the north side inside the highway boundary.
  • NC71 and NC72 will become short cul-de-sacs and should be deleted from the Definitive Map.
  • The longstanding DMMO application for Two Ponds Lane should be processed as soon as possible. It is noted that the Highways Dept of Herts CC have recently acknowledged that it is a Right of Way, but this needs to be regularised by the Rights of Way Dept.

Paul Coleman 24 Jun 20

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HS2 Works Notification: Affinity Water pipeline, June to December 2020

HS2 announce a pipeline is to be built from the Chalfont St Giles Affinity Water pumping station to Amersham pumping station. This is to be able to treat water affected by turbidity (chalk suspended in water) likely to arise when HS2 tunnel close to the CSG pumping station.

HS2 Works Notification

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Rights of Way group vs. HS2

The Rights of Way group have been conducting a long running dispute with HS2 Ltd, and National Grid, regarding the closure of paths GMI/12/1 and GMI/13/3, which run from Great Missenden up to Potter Row. National Grid have been working to replace two pylons around the North Portal of the Chilterns Tunnel, which lies at the top of the new ‘Haul Road’ running up the hill from the Great Missenden roundabout.

The two paths were closed at the beginning of September 2019, and are not due to reopen until next September – see http://www.hs2watch.com/Footpaths.html for the latest information. We complained to National Grid and HS2 that

  • The paths were closed several weeks before any work commenced
  • They were not reopened while work was suspended over Christmas, or over weekends
  • The path closure signs largely disappeared over the winter
  • More recently the lower 100m of GMI/13 was diverted, and the new diversion remains closed. No notice was given of this.

After a couple of months we managed to get the ‘path closed’ signs reinstated, although again only with laminated card. We have raised the unadvertised closure of the lower end of GMI/13 with Bucks – this section had previously remained open and connected with another path through Stockings Wood.

While HS2 are legally allowed to do pretty much as they please within the limits set down in the Hybrid Bill, they also claim to act as ‘Good Neighbours’ and to ‘Engage with the Community’. Since the main contractors were given notice to proceed, they have dropped any pretence to do either of these things.

The society is working with Bucks Authority officers to try and establish some sort of dialog with HS2 and their contractors, before the main construction work commences, and with it more widespread disruption.

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HS2 “Before and After” Photo Library

Our volunteers have been working hard and added a whole new HS2 Photo Diary to our website. These photos document the impact of this controversial high speed rail line, recording forever the area pre-construction, the enabling works, and the construction itself, which starts later this year. This is an ongoing project and will be updated regularly.

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Do you love walking?

Over the last few months the Rights of Way Group have been enhancing the walking pages on the Chiltern Society Website:

  • The Chiltern Way is a 134 miles perambulation of the AONB highlighting the best features of this historic landscape. Our web page now provides all you need to enjoy the route: ideas for circular day walks so you can sample the route together with information to help you plan longer walks along the Chiltern Way.
  • We have added a page on the Chiltern Heritage Trail, a 52 mile circular route exploring the historic and scenic highlights of the mid-Chilterns.
  • On the Free Walks Leaflet page, we have improved the search function and mapping to make it easier for you to find walks you will enjoy.
  • We had added interactive Google Maps to the Chiltern Way, North Chiltern Trail, Chiltern Heritage Trail and Ridgeway Pages. These maps allow you to zoom in on the route and see exactly where it goes.

Link to the web pages here

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HS2 ‘pollutes the Misbourne’

We have heard a lot from HS2 on Community Engagement. However this seems to be in theory rather than practice.

HS2 has been carrying out Ground Investigation Works alongside the river Misbourne near Shardeloes Lake. There has been no communication to say that this would be happening. They just arrived and started drilling. This has created a bloom of chalk particles in the Lake on last Friday and Saturday. The Environment Agency were informed and came on Sunday, but the bloom had dissipated.

See the pictures:

White Plumes

Shardlowes Drill Sites May 2020

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HS2 ignores concerns raised over Chiltern Tunnel Safety

The Chiltern Society has engaged with HS2 Limited over a considerable period of time with regard to Operational Safety Design of the 16km Chiltern Tunnel. There have been a number of questions raised which HS2 Limited has failed to answer. We believe that these concerns need to be shared with our members and the Public, as we believe that the current design will not deliver the operational safety requirements and will require a significant reduction in the capacity of HS2, thus not delivering the desired capacity increase and significantly weakening the already poor Business Case. Please find attached the latest correspondence with HS2.

Letter to: Andrew Stephenson MP 27th May 2020

Letter to: Chris Rayner 27th May 2020

Letter from: Paul Maynard 10th Feb 2020

Letter by email from: Chris Rayner 14th May 2020

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Announcement: Coronavirus – Update

23rd April 2020

With ongoing government guidelines regarding the Covid-19 virus, we have postponed all Chiltern Society events, volunteer work parties, cycle rides and walks, until the situation improves. The office is also closed to the public, but our staff are available remotely to continue assisting you with any enquiries, so please do not hesitate to contact us by phone or email if you need us. We are all looking forward to seeing you again soon, once we can return to normality.

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to our e-newsletter  for our up to date news.

24th March 2020 

As a result of the Covid-19 virus and the latest government announcement, we have sadly had to suspend all Chiltern Society events, volunteer work parties, cycle rides, walks and visitor entries to Lacey Green Windmill and Ewelme Visitor Centre. These measures are in place until further notice.

Regrettably the office is also closed to the public, but our staff remain available remotely to assist you with any enquiries. Please note that regrettably we are no longer able to process any new retail orders and we’re working to temporarily halt all sales in our online shop. Membership subscriptions and renewals are not affected by this.

The current circumstances mean that we are unable to maintain a regular presence at our sites, so we would be very grateful for your help in letting us know if you spot anything that needs immediate attention.

If there is anything that you feel poses a risk to visitors or something we should be aware of please contact us on 07450 801425 and we will endeavour to respond as soon as we can.

For general enquiries please email office@chilternsociety.org.uk or call 01494 771250.

 

Published on 17th March 2020

As a result of the Covid-19 virus and considering the latest government announcements instructing everyone to avoid all non-essential social contact, the decision has been made to suspend all Chiltern Society events, work-parties, cycle rides and walks and our visitor entries to Lacey Green Windmill and Ewelme Visitor Centre for at least the next few weeks.

Obviously, this decision is taken with reluctance as generally plenty of fresh air and exercise is to be encouraged in these unprecedented times.

In addition, the safety and good health of the volunteer walk leaders must be paramount.

As and when we can recommence, we will of course be back in touch, but until then I wish you all good health.

The office phones, emails and online store, will remain staffed, regrettably the office will be closed to the public until further notice. Please feel free to call 01494 771250 or in case of emergencies, 01494 936473 or 01494 490667.

Keep well, The Chiltern Society Team
Published on March 16 2020
At the Chiltern Society we are naturally very concerned about the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The health and safety of of volunteers, staff and event attendees is of utmost importance, so we are taking the following action:

Events 

We are currently assessing events on a case by case to determine whether or not they should go ahead. This has already resulted in some events being postponed until later in the year. If anyone has booked tickets to events that we have currently deemed acceptable to go ahead as planned, but you feel uncomfortable attending, please get in touch and we will give you a full refund. Please continue to check the events section on the website, or call us on 01494 771250 to enquire about the current status of your event. We will continue to monitor government guidance closely and will make further decisions about future events over the coming weeks.

Volunteer Work Parties and Meetings 

For the time being, please assume that your work party is going ahead as planned unless otherwise notified. Some volunteer events have been cancelled already, and your Group Leader will have contacted you if this is the case. Of course we fully support your decision should you not wish to attend, we just ask that you notify your Group Leader in advance so they are aware of how many volunteers to expect as this may affect the work they had planned. We’d also encourage volunteers to bring their own mugs and refreshment utensils for coffee breaks etc. Volunteers attending meetings at our offices have the option to dial in remotely should they choose.

We take this situation very seriously and encourage everyone to follow the Government guidelines which can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
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The 2.6 Challenge – Save the UK’s Charities

To help save what makes the Chilterns so great – its chalk streams, woodlands and footpaths, please support the Chiltern Society in The 2.6 Challenge. To donate or to fundraise for us, please visit our Just Giving Link. Thank you!

From Sunday 26 April, the day when the Virgin Money London Marathon would have taken place, join the rest of the UK for The 2.6  Challenge.

The 2.6 Challenge can be any activity you like – from running 2.6 miles to holding an online workout with 26 of your friends. Check out ‘how to get involved’ for more ideas.

Whatever your age or ability, you can take part. After all, we’re not looking for superheroes. We’re looking for Home Heroes.

How do I get involved?
No need to be a marathon runner to take part – this is a challenge for all ages and abilities. Just get thinking of an activity based around the numbers 26 or 2.6 and complete it on or from Sunday April 26.

It could be something as simple as running 2.6 miles, 26 minutes of yoga, or juggling for 26 minutes – or on second thoughts, maybe just 2.6 minutes! Check out this guide for more ideas and inspiration.

And don’t worry if you’re not able to get out your house or flat for now. We’re not looking for superheroes – we’re looking for Home Heroes.

There are no rules (apart from the Government guidelines on how to exercise safely during this time). Whatever you can do, you can be part of it – the main thing is getting active, having fun and donating whatever you can to help save the UK’s charities.

For full information, please visit The 2.6 Challenge home page here.

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Our work against HS2 in light of Covid-19

The Chiltern Society is still campaigning against HS2 and its effects on the Chilterns.

We have written to the Government to express our views that HS2 should not proceed any further during the Covid-19 situation, given the uncertain impacts on our national finances and future travelling habits.

We have also reiterated ongoing safety concerns regarding the Chiltern Tunnel and the huge demand on our water supplies that would be required should the project proceed.  We urge the Government to delay any further proceedings until the unprecedented health crisis has been resolved and circumstances are reevaluated.

A full copy of the letter to Lord Berkeley can be found here.

 

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Chris Packham launches legal challenge against HS2

The Chiltern Society has been fighting hard against HS2 for over a decade. Last year when an independent review of the project was announced, we were quick to reiterate our longstanding concerns and arguments against the proposals; namely the inevitable environmental devastation, unprecedented threat to Chilterns wildlife and grave geological concerns.

Last month the Government announced, to our disappointment, that the project would be proceeding as planned despite the case that we had put forward along with many other like minded environmental charities, NGOs and campaigners including renowned broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham who has now launched a legal challenge against the Government’s decision.

Chris Packham believes, as we do, that HS2 will damage or destroy almost 700 wildlife sites, including over 100 Ancient Woodlands. He also argues that the climate impact of HS2 is expected to be incompatible with any Net Zero emissions targets. Furthermore, there are fundamental concerns that the ‘independent Oakervee review’ was biased towards accepting HS2 evidence and that important information relating to environmental impacts was not considered properly.

The appointed law firm has sent a Pre-Action Protocol letter on behalf of Mr Packham, arguing that the Government’s decision was unlawful on the grounds that it relied on the flawed ‘Oakervee review’ process and did not take into account the full environmental costs of the project. Chris is on a mission to raise £80,000 to help towards legal costs, and we’d encourage our members and supporters to contribute what they can via his Crowd Justice page.

We continue to fight hard to protect the Chilterns and will do all we can to preserve this special landscape.

 

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An open letter to The Prime Minister, Ministers and all MPs

The Chiltern Society is very disappointed at the Government’s decision to proceed with HS2 in full, and particularly with the section across the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

As a charity supported by 7000 members and hundreds of volunteers who support our work to protect and promote the AONB and surrounding area, we have campaigned for 10 years to stop HS2 crossing the Chilterns. The line splits the AONB in two and even though part of it is tunnelled, it will bring enormous disruption and environmental harm to the Chilterns area.

The decision to proceed brings significant threats, not least the destruction of precious ancient woodland, additional noise to a tranquil and protected area, light and air pollution fears, and catastrophic disruption to wildlife. The additional water abstraction from the Chiltern aquifer during construction of HS2 will put internationally important chalk streams at serious risk to pollution and extinction.

There is a real and genuine concern that tunnelling through unstable chalk in the area will seriously affect water supplies and that some of the globally rare chalk streams located in the Chilterns could disappear completely. Unfavourable ground conditions for tunnelling are likely to adversely affect two Sites of Special Scientific Interest at Bacombe Hill and Aston Clinton. Tunnelling is also likely to cause serious ground stability issues in the areas of Chalfont St. Giles and South Heath. All of these will have serious implications for further cost increases.

We have also raised questions regarding the safety of the train evacuation procedures in the Chilterns Tunnel, which HS2 have refused to answer for over a year.

As we believe this is a fundamentally bad decision, which is not in the country’s economic or environmental interest, we will continue to oppose this project, and fight to limit the potentially devastating impacts on the Chilterns and the AONB.

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Active Trustee Treasurer Required

The Chiltern Society is actively seeking a new Treasurer to manage and oversee its financial affairs.

Day to day financial recording is carried out by an employed bookkeeper. The role of the Treasurer is to oversee the entire finances of the Charity with the assistance of the Chief Officer and present reports to the Executive Council.

The Charity currently uses Sage Essentials but is in the process of moving to a Xero system and day to day work to trial balance is carried out by a bookkeeper. The applicant will be required to attend monthly Officers meetings and a bi-monthly Executive Council comprising all Trustees, additionally it will be necessary to visit the office in Chesham frequently.

The duties of the Treasurer include:

Day to day

  • Agree normal financial procedures with bookkeeper and Chief Officer
  • Monitor performance with Chief Officer as necessary
  • Review debtors from time to time to minimize bad debts

Month end

  • Produce Management Accounts based on trial balance
  • With Chief Officer monitor report and performance against budget
  • Report to monthly Officers meeting and Bi-monthly Executive Council

Salaries

  • Run pay role and liaise with HMRC and pension provider

Cash & Investments

  • Review regularly with Investment Committee

Annual Budget

  • With Chief Officer manage annual budget requests
  • Present budget to Executive Council
  • Integrate agreed budget into reporting system

Annual Statement

  • Complete annual financial statements
  • Provide statements and supporting documentation for auditors to review
  • Present accounts to members at Annual General Meeting
  • File statutory accounts at Companies House and with Charities Commission

Our ideal Treasurer will have

  • Financial Qualifications, preferably a qualified accountant
  • Good communication skills and the ability to explain financial information
  • A working knowledge of Xero
  • Analytical and evaluation skills, demonstrating good judgement
  • Understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities of trusteeship
  • Preferably an interest in the objectives of the Charity

Trustees form the Executive Council and fulfill the roles of Directors of the Charity. The Council meets formally six times, usually in the evening, plus one or two full day meetings each year. Meetings are mainly held close to the office but on occasions may be held in other areas of the Chilterns.

While it is not essential it is hoped that potential applicants will be passionate about the Chilterns and the need to preserve the beauty and heritage of the area.

In the first instance please send a CV with a covering letter to Generalsecretary@chilternsociety.org.uk

Applications will close on 28 February 2020.

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We’re Recruiting: Communications and Fundraising Officer

We’re looking for a new Communications and Fundraising Officer to support the Chief Officer to deliver of all aspects of fundraising, membership and income growth, and to increase awareness of the Chiltern Society’s work both internally and externally.

Salary: Scale £26,000 – £28,750 per annum
Hours: 35 hours (9-5 Monday-Friday) regular weekend and evenings as required
Term: Permanent
Probationary period: 3 months
Based: Chiltern Society Head Office in Chesham and at other locations across the wider Chilterns
Reports to: Chief Officer
Direct Reports: Events and Marketing Coordinator, Office and Events Volunteers
Key relationships: Other staff, Key Volunteers, General Public, External Stakeholders (Prospective Donors, Partner Organisations)
Budget responsibilities: To meet income and awareness targets within agreed annual budgets and 5-year rolling business plans

What we are looking for:

We are looking for an enthusiastic individual who loves working within a small dedicated staff and volunteer teams, with strategic partners, local businesses and the general public. The role will provide an opportunity for you to further develop your existing skills in communications, membership growth and/or charity fundraising. The successful candidate will need to be a self-starter with excellent communication and project management abilities who is confident and flexible. You will be experienced in some or all aspects of the role, loves showing initiative, and wants to develop within a small, growing, impactful organisation which has big ambitions.

Most importantly we’re looking for someone who will fit well within our small charity staff team, who will not only be able to help grow income and membership and in the own right, but will be able to work with our volunteers, and help really help us raise the profile of the organisation.

We know we’re asking a lot, and we’re probably looking for someone who shows great potential, who has some experience and who would like a steppingstone for a much larger role in the next 3-5 years.

Job description:

Income Generation

  1. Working with the CO, develop and deliver a funding and earned income strategy, setting and agreeing priorities to deliver annual income targets. Review, refine and develop existing activities and seek further income sources from new programmes and partners.
  2. Supporting the CO in the planning, implementation and management of income generating activities.
  3. Fundraising: Planning and promotion of fundraising campaigns: Plan engaging fundraising appeals that resonate with our supporters. Promoting campaigns effectively across a multitude of communication channels to ensure maximum awareness.
  4. Fundraising: Corporate Sponsorship and Giving: Help develop a strategy to generate significant and sustainable additional income streams. Helping maintain long-term relationships with key partners and businesses and help manage those relationships to help ensure future support.
  5. CS Sales: Create and deliver a plan for products, managing the offer to fit with our charitable objectives.

Membership Growth

  1. Create, lead, and deliver recruitment campaigns, to grow membership income above budgeted levels. Develop relationships with members to increase income, via online giving, donations, retail and legacies
  2. Through community engagement and our roadshow ensure significant membership growth at events.
    It is envisaged the post holder will lead on our weekly roadshow and/or membership recruitment events which aim to recruit upwards of 5 members per week.
  3. Chiltern Magazine and Advertising: Work with CO, conservation team, support groups and Editor to develop the impact of the magazine and ensure brand reputation is being upheld.
    With the assistance of a freelance sales agent drive magazine advertising sales.

Awareness Raising & Marketing

  1. Brand positioning: Working with the Chief Officer to manage all aspects of the brand management across all touch points, online, in print and across all CS sites and activities. Deliver account management of design agencies, website developer, magazine production and all other external marketing support.
  2. Deliver and manage all digital marketing channels: Managing and delivery of all aspects of the website and social media, ensuring they assists awareness, membership and fundraising delivery targets.
  3. Events management oversight and delivery of events programme and major flagship events to ensure that they are run and promoted successfully to delivery and support the charities awareness and income targets.

To read the person specification, please click here.

To apply email your CV and cover letter to getinvolved@chilternsociety.org.uk no later than 9.00am on Friday Feb 14th 2020.   

First round interviews will be on 1 Monday Feb 24th, and second round on Monday March 2nd. 

 

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We’re still fighting hard against HS2!

We’ve sprung into 2020 with determination to make sure our concerns about HS2 are listened to and taken seriously.

This week we’ve written to Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, to outline our arguments against the project once again.

In the Autumn, when a review of the project was taking place, we presented a number of grave concerns including:

  • the costs associated with HS2, which are set to rise substantially
  • the environmental devastation that the project would cause in the Chilterns; including the loss of hedgerows, farmland and ancient woodland
  • the threat to wildlife including the cutting of migration routes for wild animals
  • the risk to the Misbourne aquifer through tunneling and the loss of the Misbourne, a rare chalk stream
  • the projected usage of 1 million litres of water per day to build the line and the unprecedented pressure this would put on our local water supply
  • tunnel safety concerns, and how passengers would be safely evacuated in the instance of a fire
  • several grave geological concerns

Despite the review recommending that the project proceed as planned, we are still determined to make our voice heard, in addition to the voices of local Chilterns residents and wildlife. We hope that the Secretary of State will take our points into consideration and respond accordingly.

You can read our letter to him, which includes our Autumn report to the Oakervee Review, here.

We will continue to post updates about our work and the responses that we receive.

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Chiltern Society Response to the Glover Review

A major independent review – led by Julian Glover – has called for action to reignite the founding spirit of our great National Park movement in order to make them greener, more beautiful and open to everyone.

The Chiltern Society both supports the principles of the report and the proposal that the AONB in our region may become a National Park and receive the attention, funding and appropriate powers we know it deserves. We would like to pass on our thanks to all those involved in working and contributing to the report. The Glover Report we feel is comprehensive, its findings sound and we look forward to working with Central Government, the wider National Landscapes family and our partners at the Chilterns Conservation Board in making it a reality.

We would like to highlight two main points:

The Chilterns AONB and associated surrounding area is in the most densely populated and economically active part of England which, combined with our proximity to London, poses unparalleled pressures on our region. The scale of housing demand, HS2, Heathrow and Luton Airport expansions and the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway development are major challenges for our Protected Landscape. As such, we seek reassurance that in the future the protected landscape status will cover an appropriate area wider than the AONB and deliver improved planning controls.

With more than 1.6million people within 5 miles of the existing AONB, and with many more in Greater London within 30-60 minutes easy reach, the Chilterns provide the essentials of life such as clean water, fresh air and the opportunity to improve health and wellbeing. However, increased tourism needs to maintain at the very least these essentials, be well-resourced and sufficiently managed.

The Chiltern Society therefore proposes that the Review should create a clear channel for key stakeholders from within the region to input expertise into national policy making and delivery, by giving local expert groups, which would include the Society, a seat at the table with DEFRA and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) committees on relevant policy issues;

Any future Management Plan for the Chilterns AONB/National Park needs to be strengthened to ensure that all public bodies who operate within the boundaries and surrounding impact areas, especially regarding Planning decisions affecting the Chilterns, have an increased responsibility put on them to use public money in ways that enhance, rather than damage, what makes the Chilterns unique and reflect the input from volunteers, local organisations and people.

The Management Plan needs to complement the new Environmental Land Management schemes supporting farmers to look after wildlife, access and heritage in the AONB/National Park, and to create a nature recovery network across the Chilterns and beyond its boundaries linking with the neighbouring AONBs.

With regard to use of the term “Sustainable Tourism” in the report, this needs further definition. What, in practice, does this actually mean? We support the establishment of a National Landscape Service, as long as it replaces current overarching boards in place and is not an additional layer of governance.

The Chiltern Society welcomes the thoughts of our members and the wider Chilterns community, and we are looking forward to working with Government locally and nationally to create a brighter future for The Chilterns. This is a wonderful opportunity to ensure all our finest landscapes including The Chilterns remain special and unique places for the benefit of current and future generations.”

We have written to both Lord Kimble and our patron, Earl Howe, to make them aware of our thoughts on this important matter.

The full Glover Report can be found here. 

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Chalk Streams in Crisis – Update

It has been two weeks since we gathered the industry leaders at our AGM to talk about #ChalkStreamsInCrisis, where the big hitters from the Environment Agency, Ofwat, Affinity Water and Thames Water joined our friends from the Chilterns Chalk Stream Project and the Chiltern Conservation Board to answer tough questions from our Keynote Speaker Fergal Sharkey, Chair Simon Kearey and the many of our supportive members who share our grave concern about the crisis that is our disappearing chalk streams.

We are pleased they have all committed to work with even more gusto to help solve the crisis and they all agreed to act with immediate urgency, as not to be the individuals responsible for the extinction of Chiltern Chalk Streams. Specifically, we had agreement from all regarding:

  • The urgency and need to take individual and joint action to stop further Chiltern Chalk Streams damage.
  • To make an immediate start on restoring them.
  • To secure enough resources suited to the size of the task, including the time of personnel who have enough decision making seniority to make a measurable positive difference.
  • A step change in how we better communicate the Chalk Stream Crisis to Government, Industry and Consumers?
  • To all meet and publicly communicate our progress this time next year (October 2020)

We’re now pleased to say that we’ve some significant updates to report.

First, the working group which will consist of all those represented at the conference will have its first working meeting in early December. This group is being headed by Doug Kennedy, our volunteer lead on this campaign. The principal objective of this group is to find ways to maintain environmentally valid and acceptable levels of water and flows in the Chiltern Chalk Streams between now and when longer-term infrastructure solutions are delivered.

Second, Doug has now also secured the support of the senior team at DEFRA and has plans to raise the issue at Government Minister level well before Christmas.

Third, Simon Kearey, our Chair will be taking the matter to our friends in the House of Lords, and we hope to soon have significant support there too.

Fourth, our Rivers and Wetlands Group, coordinated by our volunteer Dan Turner, are working hard on practical plans to show us how we as individuals can go do our bit to save our #ChalkStreamsInCrisis.

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Farm Shop Award Presentation

Last week we had the pleasure of meeting the owners of the farm shops picked by our judges as the very best in the Chilterns.  It was a joyous occasion, hosted by Peterley Manor Farm in Prestwood, our overall winners, who provided a fabulous array of refreshments from their own café.

This year our team placed greater emphasis on sustainability and green initiatives such as local sourcing, so crucial to reducing our food miles, availability of eco products such as re-usable bags, water bottles and coffee cups and encouraging customers to bring their own containers to take advantage of instore re-fill initiatives. Other criteria included range of products, presentation, friendly service and ambience.

Peterley Manor is deservedly the overall champion farm shop – praised for its excellent range of high quality products, large selection of home-produced items like their own meat and apple juice along with home grown fruit and veg.

P E Mead & Sons of Tring is the North Chilterns winner based on a fantastic selection of locally sourced produce, focus on sustainability and lots of “extras” such as a pleasant café, pet food department, greeting cards and gifts.

The South Chilterns area winner is Blue Tin Produce of Ipsden where our judges loved the rustic ethos, extensive range of locally sourced items, many from Ipsden or nearby, and their great little café with an outside verandah.

Finally Laceys Family Farm Shop in Lane End receive a Best Newcomer Award.

Hearty congratulations to these 4 exceptional Chiltern farm shops!

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Staff from Ella’s Kitchen lend a hand at Kingwood Common

On the morning of the 12th September, Gavin our Head of Conservation and Fiona, our Ranger were joined by a group from the UK’s number 1 baby food brand, Ella’s Kitchen. The staff at Ella’s Kitchen (all Senior Management) chose to work with the Chiltern Society as they wanted to do something beneficial for their local environment as their office is based nearby.

We were joined by 7 staff members for the day who helped us to open up some glades on this very valuable conservation site. One of the main issues we encounter at Kingwood Common is keeping on top of the bracken and bramble scrub which quite invasive and can grow very quickly, so we were grateful for assistance from the team at Ella’s Kitchen who helped us make some headway with this.

The team were split into two groups and given the option to learn to scythe and clear the bracken or help to clear some small samplings of encroaching holly with bowsaws and loppers. Fiona gave a brief introduction into the art of scything and showed the group how to cut the bracken effectively. After a few pointers here and there, the group were very effective and cleared a small glade in no time at all!

Gavin helped the other group with holly clearance and they managed to fell a significant holly tree which would have been large enough for a chainsaw to takedown! We then had our usual break and returned to the same tasks before pausing for lunch.

After lunch, the groups swapped around and they helped us to finish clearing away the holly and bramble in the glades. We were very impressed with the work that was achieved and very grateful for the help. This management of the glades is encouraging lots of interesting species, particularly heather and other wildflowers that enjoy the more acidic soil in this part of the Chilterns. It can also help to encourage a range of reptiles such as slow worms, common lizard and even adders!

The staff at Ella’s Kitchen had an enjoyable time and the following day thanked us for a great day out. One member of the team said, ‘There are some aching muscles today, but we all enjoyed a nice day in the fresh air and hope we helped with your efforts in the local environment.’

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HS2 Review: Letter to Douglas Oakervee

This week we have written to Douglas Oakervee who is responsible for leading the review that will asses whether the HS2 project should go ahead after all.

In our letter, we reiterate our longstanding concerns about HS2 and our arguments against the project, including:

  • our suggestion to increase capacity on existing lines, rather than build a new one
  • the costs associated with HS2, which are set to rise substantially
  • the environmental devastation that the project would cause in the Chilterns; including the loss of hedgerows, farmland and ancient woodland
  • the threat to wildlife including the cutting of migration routes for wild animals
  • the risk to the Misbourne aquifer through tunnelling and the loss of the Misbourne, a rare chalk stream
  • the projected usage of 1 million litres of water per day to build the line and the unprecedented pressure this would put on our local water supply
  • tunnel safety concerns, and how passengers would be safely evacuated in the instance of a fire
  • several grave geological concerns

We also outline some suggested alternatives, including our support for further investigation into an alternative route which would follow the M1, be substantially cheaper and offers better integration with the existing rail network.

To read the letter in full, please click here.

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Himalayan Balsam Bashes

Chiltern Society volunteers have been working with the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project this year to control two infestations of Himalayan Balsam along the River Gade and the River Misbourne.

Large stands of this plant have become established close to the sources of each river threatening to spread downstream if not controlled. Himalayan Balsam was introduced to Britain as a garden plant in 1839. It rapidly colonises riverbanks, developing into dense stands that kill off native plants and other flora. When it dies back in autumn, it leaves riverbanks bare and prone to erosion.  Each plant can produce up to 2,500 seeds which can be transported by rivers to establish new colonies downstream.

Control of the infestation on the River Gade at Great Gaddesden is now in its third year and is close to being eradicated.  Work to clear the stand on the Misbourne at Little Missenden began this year and is likely to take 5 years to eradicate.  Ceri Groves, who is managing the control programme for the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project says, ‘It has been great to work with the Chiltern Society’s volunteers this year. Their assistance has been invaluable, contributing over 170 hours so far this year to help stop Himalayan balsam from spreading further.’

A final work party is being held on the 4th September to clear any remaining plants from the Gade.  If you would like to take part in this work party or future events,  please contact the Ceri Groves cgroves@chilternsaonb.org

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Green Belt and AONB Under Threat

Chiltern District Council and South Bucks District Council have recently been consulting on their joint Local Plan. The Plan aims to develop over 11,000 homes in the period up to 2036. Of these, 5,200 are proposed on 7.83km2 of land to be taken out of the Green Belt and 2 sites are proposed within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Chiltern Society has submitted its objections to the Plan, which can be summarised as follows:

  • It is essential that planning policies are considered across local authority boundaries to co-ordinate protection of this special area. The Plan does not give the Chilterns sufficient protection and, therefore the Society objects to the overall plan.
  • There are no exceptional circumstances under the NPPF to justify any significant incursion into recognised GB and AONB areas given that housing need alone is not an exceptional circumstance.
  • The plan needs to be revised to consider whether there are less damaging sites that were not brought forward through the ‘call for sites’ and whether there is scope for higher density developments on brownfield sites and in town centres.
  • We urge the Councils to review the overall development approach in the plan to avoid unacceptable damage to a nationally important landscape and a significant part of the Green Belt.
  • We objected to the overall number of dwellings proposed in the Green Belt and to 2 site allocations in the Green Belt and AONB at Amersham, and to significant sites in the Green Belt at Chesham, Beaconsfield, Little Chalfont and Chalfont St Peter.

Following the consultations, the Council will submit the Local Plan to the Planning Inspectorate for an independent examination.

The full response can be found here.

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Government to launch review to reconsider HS2

It has been announced that the government is launching a review of high-speed rail link HS2 – with the aim of reaching a final “go or no-go” decision by the end of the year, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said. The review will consider whether and how the project to connect London, the Midlands and Northern England should proceed.

For years, the Chiltern Society has campaigned tirelessly against HS2 and its inevitable damaging consequences to the Chilterns environment and its wildlife. Simon Kearey, Chiltern Society Chairman said, “We are of course very pleased that the government is reconsidering it’s position on the HS2 project. Not only is the business case extremely weak, but the irrevocable impacts on our local countryside would be catastrophic if it were to go ahead.”

The Chiltern Society has today written to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to reiterate the severe impact that HS2 will have on the countryside, should it go ahead.

In summary, the letters highlight our concerns that if the project proceeds, the Chilterns will incur the following damages and risks to its landscape:

  • the loss of 38km of ancient hedgerows
  • the loss of 176ha of good quality farmland
  • the cutting of migration routes for wild animals for 5 km. Currently no provision has been made for Green Bridges to enable animal migration
  • the risk to the Misbourne Aquifer through tunnelling and the loss of the Misbourne, a rare chalk stream
  • the risk to Bacombe Hill SSSI, where we have established that the hill is unstable
  • increased pressure on our already strained rivers and streams, with an expected use of 1 million liters of water per day for construction

The full letter can be read here.

We urge you to write to your local MP asking them to highlight the plight of the Chilterns countryside and it’s wildlife and encourage the government to scrap the project once and for all.

You can find your MP’s contact details here.

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Farm Shop Award – Winners Announced!

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2019 Food & Drink Award which this year has put local farms shops under the spotlight!

Our judges thoroughly enjoyed their visits to all of the shortlisted businesses to choose the winners. They considered a variety of factors, including the range and availability of locally produced products, promotion of sustainability (e.g. reduced plastic usage), the range of products on offer, general presentation, service and ambience in store.

The Central Chilterns winner, and indeed the overall winner, is the wonderful Peterley Manor Farm Shop in Prestwood (pictured) which was praised for its excellent range of high quality products, large selection of home-produced items and attractive presentation. They also champion local Chilterns food and drink producers and also encourage their customers to engage in sustainable practices with ‘bring your own tub’ initiatives and the sale of reusable beeswax food wraps, for example.

The South Chilterns area winner is Blue Tin Produce of Ipsden where our judges loved the rustic ethos, good range of locally sourced items, many from Ipsden or nearby, and their great little café.

P E Mead & Sons of Tring is the North Chilterns winner based on a fantastic selection of locally sourced produce, sustainability initiatives and lots of “extras” such as a pet food department, greeting cards and gifts.

Finally, Laceys Family Farm Shop in Lane End will receive a Best Newcomer Award. Having only been open a short while in comparison to our other nominees, this has quickly become a thriving local store with a great selection of products many of which are produced on the farm itself.

The presentation to these four outstanding Chiltern farm shops will take place in October.

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Interim Findings of the Landscapes Review

Interim findings of the Julian Glover landscapes review – “National Parks and AONBs: review to consider the next steps for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty sites in England” – have been published.

IN SUMMARY, THE INTERIM REPORT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • We should not be satisfied with what we have at the moment. It falls short of what can be achieved, what the people of our country want and what the government says it expects in the 25-year plan for the environment.
  • Some of this failure comes from the fact that our protected landscapes have not been given the tools, the funding and the direction to do the job we should now expect of them. I want to praise the commitment of those who work to protect our landscapes today. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve seen energy, enthusiasm and examples of success.
  • We need to reignite the fire and vision which brought this system into being in 1949.
  • We think in particular the current system of governance for National Parks should be reformed. Time after time we have heard and seen that boards are too big, do not do a good job in setting a strategic direction and ambition, and are unrepresentative of both society and, at times, of the things parks should be leading on, such as natural beauty, climate change, and diversity.
  • We think that AONBs should be strengthened, with increased funding, new purposes and a greater voice on development. We have been impressed by what they often achieve now through partnership working.
  • We heard repeatedly that the MOSAIC programme working with BAME groups had been a huge success – but it was a one-off, and largely fell away when its initial funding ran out. We want to see a new version of it brought in as a priority.
  • Although there are already examples of links with the National Health Service there is no overall agreement about how these two great institutions from the post-war settlement might work together. Social prescribing has huge potential to improve physical and mental health at low cost.
  • In almost every place we visited we heard similar warnings about the challenge communities face. Residents are getting older. Local communities see housing costs climb while not much affordable housing is built to add to the supply. We will make a specific proposal in our final report to for a proactive way for landscapes to address the shortage of social housing.

To read the full interim review, visit the Government website.

We’re pleased the messages are clear and look forward to seeing what happens when the full report is published.
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Buildings Design Award 2019 Presentation

This week, we had the great pleasure presenting awards to the owners, architects and builders of the three successful entrants for this year’s award.  Two design projects were awarded a winner’s plaque and the third received a highly commended certificate.  The event took place at Incurvo, Goring on Thames, designed by Adrian James Architects of Oxford.  The judges selected Incurvo as a beautiful and unique structure which significantly improved the previous use of the site.  The highest quality materials were used and the property was designed to be virtually carbon neutral.  The landscaped gardens considerably enhance the house with its curving forms, whilst the careful positioning of trees and other features allows stunning views of the Chiltern countryside beyond.

Knight Architects of High Wycombe, who specialise in bridge design, were presented with the second plaque.  This new footbridge is an important part of the regeneration of Taplow Riverside. Crossing the river from Taplow Riverside to Ray Mill Island, the bridge neatly solved the problem of lack of access to the Thames from the Taplow area.  The structure is a highly attractive addition to what was previously a run-down industrial area and a valuable new public amenity.

A highly commended award was presented to Dock Farm near Princes Risborough for a restoration project on a Grade II Listed 17th century farmhouse.  This was designed by DP Architects of Watlington who carried out restoration and improvements to the building which had fallen into a state of dilapidation.  The judges awarded this development for its rigour and restraint along with the meticulous care of the works carried out.  The farmhouse retains its simple Chilterns rustic character.

The Buildings Design Awards are run in partnership with the Chiltern Society and the Chilterns Conservation Board.

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Countryside North of Luton Under Threat

The Chiltern Society is opposed to the development of 4000 houses and a new A6 – M1 Link Road on land to the north of Luton, which would encroach on the Chilterns AONB and the Green Belt.

We will be giving evidence to the Public Examination of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan in relation to the housing development and a freight interchange facility at Sundon. We consider that the housing development would not be able to demonstrate exceptional circumstances for developing within the AONB and this would not be in the public interest. It would, therefore, be contrary to national policy on AONBs.

The Plan proposes removing land from the Green Belt to allow for 4000 houses. We are not satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that exceptional circumstances exist for removing land from the Green Belt. Our view is that housing need on its own is not an exceptional circumstance that outweighs harm to the Green Belt.

Our full report to the Examination can be read here.

We have also objected to the planning application for development of the Link Road on both AONB and Green Belt grounds. This has included offering our full support to the detailed response submitted by the Chilterns Conservation Board. Our major concern is that this is being applied for before the development has been discussed at the Local Plan Examination.

Click here to read our comments on this application.

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National Park Debate

Following an insightful debate at the Chiltern Society AGM last October, the majority of those attending were, on balance, in favour of the Chilterns becoming a National Park. It’s clear, however, that while the current AONB designation may not be perfect, becoming a National Park brings its own challenges.

The overall objectives of a National Park are very much aligned with those of an AONB: conserving the natural beauty of the Chilterns, its wildlife and cultural heritage;promoting understanding and enjoyment of the region; and fostering the economic and social wellbeing of local communities. On the other hand, there are significant differences in the structure, resourcing and powers of the authorities charged with delivering these objectives. A key difference is the ability for a National Park Authority(NPA) to become the Planning Authority. This isn’t mandatory, and while there would be benefits in having a single body dealing with planning issues across the Chilterns,there are concerns over the potential loss of control at local level.

The resourcing of an NPA offers significant benefits, with typical staffing levels of 50-100, including ecologists,rangers, archaeologists and support staff,and a budget ranging from £3million to£10million. AONBs have significantly lower staffing levels and budgets, ranging from£200,000 to £1million. These resource pressures mean a reliance on effective partnership work and project funding to deliver AONB management plan objectives. The higher levels of resourcing for a National Park reflect the need for extra support to deal adequately with these challenges.

An important factor to consider is the increased awareness and recognition of the National Park brand. Although this isn’t easy to measure, the impact of it shouldn’t be underestimated and in all likelihood will bring both benefits and costs. National Parks are undoubtedly more recognised nationally as protected landscapes than AONBs, and this may give them extra leverage. Conversely, tourism levels would increase, particularly given the proximity of the Chilterns to London. This would have to be managed very carefully in order to protect the special features of the landscape and local communities, while making the most of potential opportunities for local businesses.

The Glover Review into both National Parks and AONBs is currently under way,to assess whether our protected landscape designations are fit for purpose. The result of this study will be crucial, and could potentially change the look of both National Parks and AONBs. (It was also noted at our AGM that it took 79 years for the South Downs to be designated as a National Park)! What we can say is that National Park status won’t be a magic bullet or something that will happen overnight, but it does raise important questions for the long-term future of the Chilterns and how we ensure we have the appropriate level of protection and resources to guarantee it’s a diverse,resilient and sustainable landscape that future generations can enjoy.

We want to know your views. Should the Chilterns become a National Park? Give us your feedback and complete our survey

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Chilterns Buildings Design Awards 2019 – The Results

We are delighted to announce that our team of judges has chosen the three winning buildings for this year’s award. There are two design projects which will be awarded a winner’s plaque, the third will receive a Highly Commended award.

The first winner is ‘Incurvo’, a newly built residential property in Goring on Thames, designed by Adrian James Architects of Oxford. The judges picked out Incurvo as a beautiful and unique structure which significantly improves upon the previous use of the site. The highest quality materials have been used, such as the warm-toned Swanage bricks interspersed with panels of charcoal- coloured zinc.

A variable height zinc parapet round the edges of the flat roof serves the practical purpose of concealing the solar panels, photovoltaic panels and heat recovery system, whilst constituting a bold design feature. Various other energy-saving measures have been incorporated so that the house is almost carbon neutral.

The landscaped gardens wrap themselves around the sinuous curves of the house in perfect synergy with the building, whilst the planting has been carefully designed to provide stunning views of the Chiltern countryside beyond.

Our second winner is the River Thames Footbridge – an elegant new structure designed by Knight Architects of High Wycombe, who specialise in bridge design. It is an important part of the regeneration of Taplow Riverside. Crossing the river from Taplow Riverside to Ray Mill Island, it neatly solves the problem of lack of access to the Thames from the Taplow area. From the island one can join the Thames Path.

The steel structure has a 35m span and its shallow arch echoes the design of the nearby Brunel railway bridge, which has the widest and flattest brick arches in the world.

The judges said that not only is the bridge a highly attractive addition to what was previously a run-down industrial area, but a valuable new public amenity.

A Highly Commended award will be given to Dock Farm near Princes Risborough for a restoration project on a Grade II Listed 17th century farmhouse. The property has an elm timber frame with brick infill panels. Because of its age, these materials were obviously locally sourced and its style is that of a typical rustic Chilterns dwelling of the period.

DP Architects of Watlington were asked to carry out restoration and improvements to the building which had fallen into a state of dilapidation. The refurbishment enabled the removal of incongruous additions such as cooker hoods, and the reinstatement of a number of historic elements. The builders even uncovered an old well during the outside works, which has now become a garden feature.

The architects also managed to introduce energy-saving measures such as proper insulation, draft proofing and different types of double glazing to suit the range of different window styles, so the house is much snugger in winter and generally more breathable.  All this was achieved without compromising the original simple character of the farmhouse.

The judges praised this development for its rigour and restraint, and for the meticulous care with which the works were carried out.

The Buildings Design Awards are run jointly with the Chilterns Conservation Board.

Winner: ‘Incurvo’ 

Winner: River Thames Footbridge 

Highly Commended: Dock Farm

 

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Bird Monitoring at Whiteleaf & Brush Hill

With the help of a dedicated team of volunteers, we have been monitoring bird boxes on Whiteleaf and Brush Hill for the past 4 years as part of a British Trust of Ornithology (BTO) monitoring scheme. The boxes are primarily inhabited by Great Tits and Blue Tits, and since March the team has been busy checking the boxes around the reserves on a weekly basis to see the progression from the nest building, to eggs, to chicks hatching, ringing and eventually fledging. All of the chicks and some adults are ringed by Dave Short and the 4 trainee ringers (Rachel, Robyn, Veneita and Paul) before being ‘posted’ safely back into the nesting boxes. So far this year, out of the 35 boxes installed on these two reserves, 22 have either eggs or chicks present, indicating a healthy population of tits within the sites. Raptor boxes for larger birds such as barn owls and kestrels have also been placed across Whiteleaf Hill – although previous years have seen the intended birds nest in these larger boxes, only squirrels and stock doves have been found so far this year!

The group also carry out mist netting 3 to 4 times a year, to investigate the wider bird population on the sites. Here fine nets, that are hard to spot with even human eyes, are set up in a clearing at dawn, into which a huge range of birds fly into including Dunnocks,  Jays and Woodpeckers. The birds are then measured, weighed and ringed, and the results are sent to the BTO as part of the wider UK monitoring scheme, this also includes all ringed at the nest boxes. These results are then kept by the BTO for nesting and population trends in the area and also longevity of the birds.

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2019 Food & Drink Award

As the next project in our annual Food & Drink Awards, we will be revisiting Chiltern farm shops. Much has changed since we chose farm shops as our very first award in 2013, with some of the original businesses going from strength to strength, a few disappearing and many new ones opening.

When we first launched the annual Food & Drink Award six years ago, farm shops were a relatively new phenomenon. Of course many farms might have a handwritten sign at their gate offering eggs and milk for sale, but the lavish farm shops we are accustomed to these days were quite a novelty.  Typically the owners can showcase their own produce such as meat, seasonal fruit and vegetables, a range of organic foods, beautiful breads sourced from a local baker and locally made jams and chutneys.

Many shops have now turned themselves into an attraction in their own right by installing a café and introducing a range of gift items to the shop, even in some cases play areas for families. Some are running successful food-related events. Best of all, their customers have the satisfaction of knowing they are supporting a local Chilterns enterprise.

This is a really positive development in allowing farmers to diversify their business, whilst offering a welcome addition to the range of leisure shopping opportunities for local people.

We would love you to tell us about any farm shops you like to visit with a few words to say about why this is your favourite farm shop and what products you like to buy there. Please submit your entries by email here.

The closing date for entries is June 16th. We look forward to receiving your nominations!

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Junior Rangers get their dose of Vitamin N(ature) at Brush Hill

During the first week of the Easter holidays, the Chiltern Society ran three Junior Ranger days on their Brush Hill Nature Reserve. Our grown-up rangers, Gavin and Fiona, opened up the conservation area and transformed it into a camp for the duration of the activities. They ran a series of activities designed to show what a day in the life of a ranger involves and were joined by around 30 children and their families over the course of the three days. They were also lucky to be supported by some wonderful Chiltern Society volunteers.

Each day started with a scavenger hunt, which the children participated in whilst walking to the camp. They spotted key species on Brush Hill and learnt about the different habitats and animals that live there. On arriving into camp, they were split into small groups and volunteers led them around the conservation activities. The junior rangers had to identify animals using their tracks and a set of clues pertaining to their homes, calls and individual features. They had to identify birds in the woodland and correctly name them using a picture identification sheet. Each group also spent time constructing a large insect mansion which is being left on site and created a small one to take home to their own gardens.

After a tea break and refuel by the camp fire, they began the basic bushcraft skills section of the day. The children built shelters and learnt fire lighting techniques which were later put to the test when marshmallows were roasted and corn was popped over their open fires.

Everyone had great fun- grown ups and children alike! Cries of “Awwwwww” were widespread when it was time to head home! We will definitely be running more activities over other holidays for children so keep your eyes peeled!

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Appointment of Chief Officer

The Chiltern Society is delighted to announce the appointment of its first Chief Officer, Tom Beeston. Tom will join The Chiltern Society on the 1 April 2019 having previously been a consultant in the charity, food and farming sector. Prior to this Tom was CEO of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) and before that Visitor Centre Manager at the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust’s College Lake nature reserve.

Simon Kearey, Chair of the Chiltern Society, comments, “Tom has a great track record of leading organisations with conservation and volunteer charities. We are delighted that he will bring his energy and vision to ensure the Chiltern Society continues to support a thriving, strong countryside and towns while delivering a wide range of benefits for both residents, tourists and wildlife. Tom lives in Tring and I know is very much looking forward to working close to home and to leading the Society at such a crucial time for the Chilterns as a whole and when our area of outstanding natural beauty and its heritage assets need us the most.”

Tom added, “I am delighted to have the opportunity to work back in the Chilterns and to lead the Chiltern Society. The area’s amazing landscapes have inspired my lifelong love of nature and a strong desire to protect it. It is a real privilege to be able to work with and lead the Chiltern Society, which under the Trustees leadership, has achieved fantastic things across the Chilterns countryside and its heritage, and provided great enjoyment and benefit to the people who live and work in the area. I am looking forward to getting to know the area even more and to working with the staff, trustees, volunteers and partners to continue creating thriving wild and heritage spaces for people and for wildlife.” 

The Chiltern Society looks forward to welcoming Tom next month.

 

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Volunteers Return to the Wormsley Estate

On a beautifully sunny and warm day in February, our volunteers returned to the Wormsley Estate near Stokenchurch to plant some more trees- another 1300 to be precise!

Volunteers were joined by Alexander Getty, future heir to the estate, who got stuck in and helped them with their planting of Yew, Juniper, Box and Privet trees. The woodland has been thinned by 30% to let more natural light through and to allow for this species diversity to flourish.

The volunteers have been planting trees on this particular site on the Estate for many years, so it was great for them to see how the trees they planted years beforehand have matured and settled into their surroundings.

Another group of volunteers assisted with the removal of old tree guards from trees that have adequately matured and no longer require support.

After a morning of hard labour, volunteers were rewarded with a fish and chip lunch.

The project is funded by Network Rail as part of their Bio-diversity Offset Programme, and is also supported by The Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment who have played a key role in facilitating the conservation work.

 

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Largest Ever Conservation Project in the Chilterns is Awarded National Lottery Funding

An ambitious project to restore and enhance the wildlife habitats, landscape features and cultural heritage of the Central Chilterns has been awarded a National Lottery grant of £2.4 million. The Chalk, Cherries & Chairs Landscape Partnership Scheme, spearheaded by the Chilterns Conservation Board will also work to educate and inspire communities to become protectors of their local heritage and landscapes. The Chiltern Society is proud to be a key partner in this exciting initiative and we have been working hard with a range of partnering organisations and community groups over the last two years to help plan the project.

Thanks to National Lottery players the five-year scheme will encourage people to connect and reconnect to the wildlife and cultural heritage of the Central Chilterns through a number of individual but interweaving projects across three key themes: Wildlife & Landscape, Heritage & Landscape and People, Communities & Landscape.

Key aims of the scheme include; protecting declining wildlife; reinvigorating Chilterns Orchards; Solving the Mystery of Grim’s Ditch; Exploring the biodiversity in the headwaters of the Chilterns; Revealing the untold history of the Chilterns’ chair Bodgers.

Supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), High Speed Two Ltd through the Community Environment Fund (CEF) and Wycombe District Council through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), the project will leave a lasting legacy of improved conservation and land management, partnership working, skills, volunteers, and engaged and aware communities caring for the future of wildlife and their heritage.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of HLF said: As well as being part of a nationally protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty –, the Central Chilterns has a wealth of heritage stories dating as far back as the Neanderthal hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic era and continuing right through to the present day. We are thrilled that with money from the National Lottery we are able to fund Chalk, Cherries and Chairs to preserve this important natural heritage for future generations, allowing them to forge stronger connections to the fascinating history of the area, and create their own stories through the scheme.”

Commenting on the award, Kath Daly, Countryside Officer said: “We are absolutely delighted that we have received this support, thanks to National Lottery players. This major partnership will provide opportunities for people to get involved and volunteer; to increase and improve wildlife spaces; and for communities to learn, create and take action for heritage.” 

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New Play Trail at Wendover Woods

In December, our Wendover Woods Volunteer Group helped put the finishing touches to a new play trail and officially opened it alongside the Forestry Commission’s Wendover Woods team!

In partnership with Forestry Commission England, the Society secured funding from The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to develop this exciting and innovative attraction at Wendover Woods – combining a new trail with a variety of play structures and features spaced along the route.

The aim of the trail is to help engage young people with the forest environment and the wider Chilterns landscape. It’s designed to encourage visitors to explore further into the forest – helping young families to explore and gain the confidence to venture deeper and reconnect with the countryside. The features are intended to reflect the local environment. They can be used in a variety of ways, and should appeal to visitors of all ages –parents and older carers will be involved as the children drag them round to find the next feature!

The trail is fully accessible and offers a short loop and a long loop to suit different abilities.

‘The new trail will be a great way for the whole family to experience the woodland together in a fun and creative way and hopefully take visitors to new parts of this wonderful Chilterns site,’ said Gavin Johnson, the Chiltern Society’s Head of Conservation.

‘We’re thrilled with the new play trail and the bespoke play pieces created especially for Wendover Woods. We very much hope visitors enjoy exploring the woods and playing together in the play spaces,’ added Joanne Mason, Beat Forester, Forestry Commission England.

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas 

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New Housing Sites to be Identified in Three Rivers

The Chiltern Society responded in December 2018 to a consultation on the choice of housing sites in Three Rivers District for inclusion in the emerging Local Plan. Planning Field Officer, Barbara Paskins, reviewed the plan and visited many of the sites to assess potential impacts on the Green Belt and the Chilterns Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The main area of concern was that the proposals would be likely to take land out of the Green Belt to allow for the Council to meet its housing target. Also, one of the larger sites would be located within the AONB. The Society expressed a preference for using brownfield land to cater for development needs wherever possible, but due to the scale of development required, some greenfield land is likely to be needed. The response includes some general comments on development in the District as well as comments on the impacts on specific sites.

The full response can be read here. 

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PhotoGroup 2019 Exhibition

The PhotoGroup’s Online Photographic Exhibition 2019 has just gone live. The 15th edition comprises an impressive total of 313 images contributed by 31 of our members. You can view the 2019 collection here

Once again the landscape category attracted most contributions, with many images featuring the diversity of the beautiful Chiltern countryside. The flora and fauna category was not far behind with at least half of the images of flowers, birds, butterflies and other insects taken in the Chilterns. Many of the photos were taken by members in their gardens or close to home.

Terry Coffey, an experienced camera club judge within the Chilterns, was again our guest reviewer. He has supplied a valuable critique of many of the images, which can be read here. He especially appreciated a photo of fungi illuminated by a shaft of sunlight taken in Hughenden Woods by Bob Smith. “You make your own luck by diligence don’t you?” he asks, echoing a view that most photographers will identify with.

For the first time, browsers of the 2019 Online Photography Exhibition were invited to choose their most favourite photograph from the 300 images submitted. We found the ‘People’s Favourites’ comprised ten images.  See them here.

 

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Volunteers get back to work at Whiteleaf

On a cold January morning, a group of volunteers gathered for the first Whiteleaf Hill work party of 2019. Around 20 volunteers turned up ready and eager to work of the excesses from the festive period. The group split into 3 with one group raking up cuttings from last year, another cutting a new area of scrub at the back of the reserve and the third group checking all the nest boxes.

Scrub is cut on a rotational basis and the Chiltern Society is keen to restore as much chalk grassland habitat as possible.  With this in mind, a new area was identified to be cleared which consists of a lot of blackthorn and scrub. Volunteers worked to clear this away to open up the area, and at the next session they will burn the scrub that they have removed. They will continue over the coming months to clear this and we are hopeful that, in time, both flora and fauna chalk grassland species will return to the area.

The bird boxes were checked at the site and cleaned out, making the homes ready for the nesting season in April. There was evidence of glis glis in some of the great tit boxes but the volunteers were hopeful that the birds had fledged before the glis glis made an arrival. Glis glis will move into a birds nest box and build their nests on top of an exiting birds nest using leaf material and are considered a pest in this part of the country.

If you’d like to join our volunteers and help to care for the Chilterns, please email our volunteer coordinator.

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Chief Officer Recruitment

As the Chiltern Society continues to grow and develop, we are looking to recruit a dynamic, forward-looking Chief Officer to manage the small staff and office volunteers and to assist the Trustees in the development and delivery of our ambitious expansion plans.

Our new Chief Officer will support the board of trustees in the execution of their responsibilities including reporting to them on all aspects of the Charity’s performance including finance, people, operational performance, marketing and member recruitment.

This a permanent, full time role based at our Head Office in Chesham.

To view the full job description and person specification, please click here.

Deadline for applications is 31st January 2018.

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Working with Pipers Corner School

A couple of weeks ago, we spent an afternoon with Year 7’s at Pipers Corner School supporting their ‘Changing Chilterns’ topic. Following a talk about the Chilterns from Gavin Johnson, our Head of Conservation, the students were challenged with a variety of tasks including map reading, designing promotional posters for the Chilterns and thinking of challenges facing the Chilterns landscape in the future and possible solutions.

We were very impressed with their level of knowledge and enthusiasm for the Chilterns.

We have been working with Pipers Corner for two years now – the students visiting our Prestwood Local Nature Reserve to carryout fieldwork and also carrying out a litter pick with their families followed by a picnic in the Spring. We plan to make this an annual visit on Earth Day in April.

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The Chiltern Society Announces New Chairman

Having completed his term of six years as Chairman of the Chiltern Society, David Harris has stepped down.

Succeeding David is the current Vice-Chair, Simon Kearey. Simon is a senior manager in NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group and works closely with a number of other local charities.

Simon is looking forward to using both his professional and charitable experience to lead the Chiltern Society as it continues to play its part in issues such as promoting the Chilterns’ rich and varied heritage, dealing with potential boundary reviews and, of course, working to ensure that the environment of our precious AONB and Green Belt is protected as much as possible from unnecessary development.

‘I’ve lived in the Hughenden Valley for 19 years and long admired the Chiltern Society, particularly the work of its volunteers who, it seems to me, are key to its success. Without them I think the
Society would struggle,’ he said. ‘I am really looking forward to helping the Society achieve its aims.’

David’s great experience is not being lost to the Charity as he is to continue as a Trustee and as Vice-Chairman; he is also Chairman of the Rights of Way Group.

David has led the Charity through a changing period which has seen great growth in activity particularly taking over the administration and maintenance of nine heritage and conservation sites.

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South Oxfordshire District Council employees lend a hand at Kingwood Common

On the morning of the 3rd December, employees from the South Oxfordshire District Council met at Kingwood Common, to join Chiltern Society staff and volunteers for a day of volunteering.

It was a miserable, damp December morning, but once the work briefing had been given (under the cover of the gazebo!) the group were split into two groups and set off enthusiastically for work.

Under the watchful eye of Gavin (Head of Conservation), one group worked in Oval Glade clearing gorse, holly and bracken – opening up the overgrown area of grassland. Meanwhile in Butterfly Glade, Matthew (Kingwood site co-ordinator) and our ranger Fiona helped the second group to clear birch saplings, bracken, bramble and rake up leaves from the glades floor.

The group also tried their hands at scything which was used to clear the bracken and brambles. After lunch, the groups joined together and made a combined effort at clearing away all cut arisings and stacking these in two large habitat piles which will benefit the local fauna. The second group also tried scything, and helped to clear the woodland edge of bracken. The result of a day’s work was remarkable and the group never tired of the work or the incessant drizzle from the sky! The Chiltern Society would like to thank the volunteers for such a great days’ work and for helping us to care for Kingwood Common.

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Scrub Clearance at Bottom Wood

Last week our rangers and volunteers spent a day clearing scrub from an area of Bottom Wood that will be replanted to create a new Hazel coppice.

Once cleared this area will be planted with Hazel and managed as coppice to link up with existing coppice areas to create a more continuous habitat. This continuity of habitat is vital in supporting a range of species and in particular the Hazel Dormouse which likes these larger are of continuous Hazel coppice.

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Annual visit to Studham Common

Earlier this month the Wendover Woods Volunteers made their annual visit to Studham Common in the North Chilterns. The Wendover team have been supporting the work of the Friends of Studham Common for over 5 years now and it is always a hugely popular event in the calendar for the volunteers.

Studham Common’s unusual combination of clay soil overlying chalk supports an interesting variety of plants which offers a refuge for a diversity of habitats and supports a wealth of insects, birds and small mammals – 200 plant species, 26 species of butterfly and over 20 species of birds – including Skylarks and Hazel Dormice. The Common’s eastern boundary is an ancient hedgerow dating back to medieval times and is a breeding site for the Hazel dormouse. 25 of our volunteers carried out work to help maintain and enhance this habitat by clearing scrub and removing old growth from the ancient hedgerow. They worked so hard that they also managed to move to another area to clear Blackthorn from encroaching on the open grassland areas.

After the mornings hard work they were rewarded with the legendary Friends of Studham Common lunch – a variety of delicious soups washed down with cakes and wine – no doubt everyone will be back next year!

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Working at Whiteleaf with BBOWT

On the 2nd October, our head of conservation Gavin and our ranger Fiona were joined by BBOWT at our Whiteleaf reserve to clear some areas of scrub. BBOWT brought along their alpine tractor which was used to cut a large section of scrub from an area on the hillside.

This was the first time we have been able to use this machinery at Whiteleaf, and we are hoping that this will help us to make a greater impact on the amount of scrub we can clear in the year. It is important to keep scrub down to a minimum on the grassland areas; if left to grow the scrub will outcompete the chalk grassland plants that are so important to the reserve and the Chilterns.  We also had four brush-cutters in use, clearing areas of dogwood and other scrub from the steep hillside banks. We are grateful to BBOWT for their time in helping make a positive start early on in the season.

Our regular volunteer group of volunteers at Whiteleaf went out later in the week to rake the areas that we had cut and our volunteers will continue to cut back the scrub and burn the arisings during the Autumn and Winter months. We are hopeful that by repeating this type of habitat management over time that there will be a reduction in scrub and more grassland plants will flourish, which in turn will provide a great variety of fauna too.

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Could you help our Rights of Way Group?

Do you enjoy being out and about in the countryside? If so, you may like the idea of playing an interesting and satisfying role in helping to preserve and improve the existing network of footpaths and bridleways in the Chilterns.

We currently have Area Secretary vacancies that we urgently need to fill in three important areas of the Chilterns:

  • The first covers the parishes of Chartridge, Cholesbury cum St. Leonards, Great Missenden, Little Missenden, Penn and The Lee.
  • The second covers Bledlow cum Saunderton, Downley, Hughenden, Piddington and Wheeler End, Radnage, Stokenchurch and West Wycombe.
  • The third covers Eaton Bray, Kensworth, Studham, Totternhoe, Whipsnade

The role of Area Secretaries has three main elements:

  1. representing the Chiltern Society’s interest in successful development of the local path network. This means considering and responding to all proposals from Local Authorities for change to the network and, wherever possible, putting forward proposals of their own to improve it.
  2. deploying a group of Path Representatives to carry out regular monitoring of paths and report any problem they find with their condition or waymarking.
  3. on receiving those reports to arrange appropriate follow up action with a view to remedying the problems found.

These roles offer every opportunity to get out and about in the countryside and to liaise about path issues with other Area Secretaries, Local Authority Officers, and sometimes members of the public. Previous experience is not important.

Area Secretaries are invited to four liaison meetings a year with other ROWG Committee members.

What’s in it for you? The satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping to sustain and improve a path network offering enormous opportunity to all those who appreciate the countryside; and working with a group of like-minded individuals in a growing team of Chiltern Society volunteers.

If you’d like to know more, please contact Brian Lawson on 01494 815814.

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Planning Campaign Leader Required

Are you passionate about protecting the Chilterns as a unique and special place to live? Do you have the drive and commitment to lead a successful campaign to influence local and national government?

Our Planning Group urgently needs a Campaign Leader to step up our campaign to prevent unsustainable development in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding National Beauty and Green Belt. You’ll be used to working in a volunteering role, and how to work with other volunteers to achieve results.

We’re looking for someone, maybe from a marketing background, with skills and experience in leadership, communication and management of diverse stakeholders to help influence senior levels of local and national government. There is no need for detailed knowledge of planning regulations, as you will have support from experts in our Planning Group. You’ll have an understanding of how government operates at different levels and how to collaborate with other like-minded organisations.

The role needs to drive out tangible results from our already publicised Planning Manifesto. This safeguards the AONB, protects the Green Belt, overhauls the methods for calculating housing need, scales infrastructure, favours brownfield and infill usage, and promotes good building design. The Chiltern Society supports the needs of local businesses and affordable housing for local people.

This is a fantastic opportunity to lead an exciting campaign that is of great value to the Chilterns.

To discuss more about how you could fit this role please email our Volunteer Coordinator or call 07756 070382.

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Best Brunch in the Chilterns – Winners Announced!

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2018 Food & Drink Award which this year has focussed on brunch- our new favourite mealtime!

Earlier this year we asked the public to nominate their favourite brunch spots in the Chilterns, tell us why they enjoyed eating there and let us know their favourite menu options.

Over twenty independent eateries were nominated from across the Chilterns- a fantastic response!  Our judges got to work and had the difficult job of  creating a short list and then visiting the finalists to taste the menu for themselves. The standard was exceptionally high, so it was a close-fought contest.

We are thrilled to announce that, after much deliberation, the following three businesses have come out on top:

The South Chilterns winner is Pierreponts of Goring-on-Thames where our judges loved the high quality food, nice range of menu options, pleasant and efficient service and attractive relaxing surroundings.

The Central Area winner is the wonderful Wild Strawberry Café in the Yurt at Peterley Manor Farm with its unusual cosy feel, food that really goes the extra mile and so many tempting choices on the menu.

The North Chilterns & overall winner is I Love Food in Berkhamsted – a fantastic Sicilian café with delicious, beautifully presented food and really professional yet friendly service. Our judges loved the Full English breakfast with a Sicilian twist and thoroughly enjoyed their visit.

The presentation to these three outstanding Chiltern brunch spots will take place in October.

The Food & Drink Awards are kindly sponsored by NFU Mutual.

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Feast on the Farm – Win a Family Ticket!

On Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th October, Feast on the Farm returns for its second year.

Hosted at the delightful Peterley Manor Farm in Great Missenden, over the two days you can expect appearances from local chefs and restaurants who collectively are making the Chilterns a foodie destination. There will be more immersive workshops with a programme of Chef’s masterclasses, butchery, wine tasting, fermentation, baking and a series of Instagram photography masterclasses. There will be a sumptuous array of food offerings AND they’ll be unveiling the brand new ‘The Secret Garden Pergola’; a wild garden full of delights including locally produced wines and gins.

Tickets are on sale now but if you fancy the chance of winning one of TWO sets of family tickets (one set for each day of the event), all you need to do is email us to let us know who is your favourite Chilterns food or drink producer and why!

Competition closes on Sunday 23rd September.
A family ticket consists of two adults & two children.

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‘Dr. Anne’ Day at Ewelme

The fifth annual ‘Dr. Anne’ Day was held at the Ewelme Watercress Beds on 21st August. Dr. Anne (Millar), who died in 2013 after serving the local community for three decades, was passionate about wildlife and involving children in outdoors nature activities.

16 Children aged six to eleven attended and enjoyed a fun morning of activities in the sunshine. The morning kicked off with opening some moth traps which had been set overnight. The children were delighted to find three Poplar Hawkmoths, which very obligingly sat on their hands to be examined at close quarters. The activities on offer this year included:

  • A photo competition on the theme of ‘patterns’
  • Pebble art – painting animal designs on pebbles
  • Bunting decorating – the children decorated bunting which will be on display at future events
  • A bird themed scavenger hunt, where the children had to find pictures of birds hidden around the site and identify the species

These activities were followed by a BBQ and the morning ended with the now obligatory boat race where the children raced boats made during the morning – this year on the theme of ‘pirate ships’.

The event is run by the Ewelme Watercress beds education team and the Benson Nature Group. The team are all passionate about nature and the environment and the importance of getting children involved from an early age. The Ewelme Watercress Beds give plenty of scope to offer a wide variety of educational activities and is a great resource to have on our doorsteps.

 

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Heritage Photo Exhibition at All Saints Church, High Wycombe

As part of our upcoming Chilterns Heritage Festival, we have organised a Heritage Photography Exhibition at All Saints Church in High Wycombe that will be open to the public from Tuesday 25th September – Saturday 6th October.

All of the images that will be on display have been contributed by our talented photography volunteers who seek to capture the best of the Chilterns through the lens and keep a visual record of our local heritage for the benefit of future generations. The photographs will only represent very small snapshot of the diverse scope of Chilterns heritage, but we hope that you will enjoy the exhibition and will feel encouraged to explore some of the places showcased.

The exhibition will be open at the following times:

Tuesday 25th September: 10am – 2:30pm
Wednesday 26th September: 10am – 2pm
Thursday 27th September: 11am – 2:30pm
Friday 28th September: 10am – 7pm
Saturday 29th September: 10am – 2:30pm
Sunday 30th September: EXHIBITION CLOSED
Monday 1st October: 10am – 2:30pm
Tuesday 2nd October: 10am – 2:30pm
Wednesday 3rd October: 10am – 2pm
Thursday 4th October: 11am – 2pm & 3:30pm – 7pm
Friday 5th October: 10am – 2pm
Saturday 6th October: 10am – 2:30pm

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Bench Installation at Great Gaddesden

15 volunteers from our North Chilterns Path Maintenance Group took on the challenge of installing three benches at remote scenic sights on important footpaths in the Great Gaddesden Parish. No ordinary garden seats, these were solid oak benches with supporting posts that needed to be set two feet into the ground.

Our volunteers divided into teams, so that each team had a balance of skills and physical abilities to deliver the challenge. The logistics were interesting, requiring benches, appropriate tools, and the right mix of people to operate at sites that were a few miles apart.

The ground was well baked after a six week drought. The teams rose magnificently to the task, and three benches were installed for the benefit of ramblers for many decades to come. Indeed, as soon as the Heizdin’s Wood bench was installed, two weary and mature walkers appeared and took advantage of this brand new “breather” opportunity.

A well deserved trip to a local pub followed, and efforts were rewarded with a hearty lunch!

 

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One little girl shows how we can all make a BIG difference

Isla started litter picking after learning about different ways to be eco-friendly in her lessons at school. She started collecting litter on her way to and from school in Studley Green and found there was a lot of rubbish along the main road. She decided that she wanted to do her bit to help the environment.

“I feel really angry about litter because it’s not nice for the environment and it doesn’t rot for a long time. There is lots of plastic that we have collected and it doesn’t rot for a long time. Plastic is dangerous to animals too, it can get stuck in animals’ throats, they might eat it and they could stop breathing.” 

For a few terms, she collected and recycled what she could when she arrived at school. She decided to keep all the rubbish she has collected during one term to show everyone how much litter she had accumulated from her small and reasonably rural local area. Many of her friends also became inspired to help her, and between them they quickly collected 16 bags full of discarded rubbish. Isla planned to lay out all this collected litter in the school hall. She hoped this would encourage others to be more sustainable and tidy the rubbish they see.

Over the term, Isla joined in with the Stokenchurch Parish Council litter pick to help clean her local area. She was the youngest volunteer on the day and was saddened by how much litter was found along a short stretch of road; many cigarettes and boxes, bottles, cans, sweet wrappers, sandwich boxes and over 40 plastic gloves from the petrol station.

Isla also initiated a family litter-pick from Studley Green to Piddington after being upset at the state of the pathway. Isla’s school kindly loaned them high-vis jackets and litter pickers for the task. On a stretch over just one mile, they filled five large bin bags with mostly recyclable waste. A huge achievement!

It’s important to Isla not just to pick-up litter on designated litter picks. She has been collecting and tidying rubbish in her day to day life too. On walks around the woods she has found balloons, bottles and string. On a recent beach trip, Isla witnessed a seagull eating plastic and decided action should be taken there too. So on two occasions now, she has initiated a #2minutebeachclean; once in Bournemouth and once in Shoreham, saving lots of plastic bottles, glass, cans, plastic netting, straws and even snorkels from entering the sea.

Isla’s family has made many changes at home to help the environment:

  • They’ve stopped using plastic milk bottles and now have a local milkman delivering their milk in reusable glass bottles! Since April they have saved the use of 46 two-pint plastic milk bottles!
  • They take a reusable water bottles to work and on days out, rather than buying more plastic bottles
  • They say ‘no’ to plastic straws because they take years to rot. They break down into microplastics that can be eaten by sea animals.
  • Isla’s Dad is going to stop chewing gum because that’s made of plastic, so he will switch to mints instead.
  • They take reusable bags to the supermarket and avoid buying fresh produce that is wrapped in plastic.
  • Isla chooses water or squash in restaurants and cafes instead of bottled juices.
  • They now use reusable tubs from packaged foods for snacks instead of zip-lock bags. When they can’t be reused anymore, they recycle them.
  • They have reused old glass pots from foods to make candles as gifts.
  • They are trying to reduce their use of wet wipes.
  • Their next challenge is to use less clingfilm and they’re going to attempt to make their own beeswax food wraps instead.

Isla said, “My perfect world would be a non-littered world without plastic everywhere.”

We quite agree.

 

 

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Our Ranger goes plastic free for July

Fiona Bennett-Meere, Chiltern Society Ranger, decided to give up single use plastics this month in an effort to do her bit to reduce plastic waste. She tells her story below:

FACT: if we do nothing to reduce our plastic consumption, then – based on current projections – by 2050 there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish (by weight). Quite a startling thought, isn’t it? How many of you watched ‘Blue Planet II’ in which Sir David Attenborough showed in graphic detail our damaged planet as a result of plastic pollution? Was it the fact that 8 million tonnes of plastic a year enters our oceans, or the emotive images of the wandering albatrosses ingesting plastic and the hawksbill turtle tangled in a plastic sack that finally got the Government’s attention? Policies are slowly being changed such as banning the manufacture of products containing microbeads in the UK and phasing out plastic straw use. But how can we each help?

This month my husband and I are taking part in the Plastic Free July challenge – quite simply we are cutting out all single use plastic. But why? In April we went to the incredible Galapagos Islands to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday, and were reminded of how precious our planet is. Known for their unique biodiversity, containing 1300 species only found in the archipelago, they too are having a plastic crisis. Did you see the ITV news report which showed the sea lion playing with a plastic bottle; a hermit crab with a plastic lid as its shell; and Darwin’s infamous finches using plastic fibres to line their nests? This was the turning point for us and we vowed to change our habits where possible, starting with my husband’s penchant for collecting non-recyclable coffee cups; (He would frequently get takeaway coffees at service stations and from his work cafés). I confronted him about this and following  a ‘discussion’ I am pleased to say not only does he take a bamboo cup with him everywhere, his colleague  purchased one too and his team all use reusable bottles and cups. Small changes can make a difference and affect change – a local café in Chesham, ‘Thé, Stay and Play’, provides half price tea and coffee if you take in your own cup. Just brilliant!

Our weekly food shop is a challenge as many supermarkets wrap their produce in cellophane; we are both vegetarian which makes meals a trial when they are all in plastic. Farm shops and companies offering organic vegetable boxes are the best at not wrapping up their produce, but these can be expensive and not an option for every household. Some businesses need to do so much more to change their habits, but we need to tell them where they are failing to affect change – something I am doing frequently now on social media. The internet is also a great place for inspiration in swapping plastic items. We purchased shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush, we line our bins with paper instead of plastic, plastic tubs are becoming plant pots and we always carry around a reusable water bottle.

As a ranger, I come across rubbish daily that people have tossed aside and plastic bottles, non-recyclable cups and of course full dog mess bags are a regular feature of the nature reserves I visit, often more so than wildlife. I want to try and change this and I need your help. I want to get the local community involved to create a sculpture made from recycled material, based on a species that is local to the Chilterns and display this locally. Are there any artists out there who could offer advice and inspiration on this project?

So far our plastic free July is going well, and we genuinely feel we are making a difference. It is not about being an eco-warrior and dressing up as a plastic bottle or chaining yourself to a vegetable aisle; it is about trying to make small changes in your lives that will impact the planet in a big way. If each of you that reads this article makes one small change, what a huge different this could have on our planet.”

We’d love to hear about your plastic free wins by tagging us @thechilternsociety Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Fiona would be very grateful to receive any ideas and inspiration you may have at ranger@chilternsociety.org.uk

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Student Leadership Conference 2018

The Chiltern Society was invited to participate in the annual Student Leadership Conference that was held at Sir William Borlase Grammar School in Marlow earlier this month. Students from 21 local school were invited to attend the conference that this year focussed on the subject of the environment.

Given recent reports in the media that local MP, the Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP, is keen to see the Chilterns achieve designated National Park status, we thought this would make an interesting topic of conversation and debate for the students. Whilst becoming a National Park immediately sounds like a very positive proposal, this is not necessarily a clear cut issue and many factors ought to be considered. The Chilterns already has a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), so how would National Park status change the status quo? As young Chilterns Champions, these students were asked to consider if they would support or oppose the National Park proposal.  Some very well thought and valid arguments were put forward by students on both sides of the debate, as outlined below:

YES, THE CHILTERNS SHOULD BE A NATIONAL PARK  

More protection for the local environment and wildlife
Would bring a boost to the economy with increased tourism
Likely to create more jobs in tourism
Much bigger budgets and resources to conserve the natural environment
Preserves local culture and heritage
Far greater control over planning matters
It would better preserve the area for future generations to enjoy

NO, THE CHILTERNS SHOULD NOT BE A NATIONAL PARK

Would tourism result in overcrowding? Could our infrastructure cope with the number of tourists?
Would an influx of visitors damage the natural environment?
House prices will rise and young people will be pushed further out of the market
More affordable housing is needed. There is already a housing shortage and this could make that worse!
The money could be better spent on something else
AONB status already offers the area ample protection without being too rigid
If there are too many National Parks, the status loses its significance

Students were divided 50:50 as to whether or not they would like to see the Chilterns awarded National Park status. This was a great exercise in engaging with young, local people, and getting them to think about the countryside and it’s future. The National Park issue is one that we will continue to discuss.

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Help Preserve our Iron Age Hillforts

We’re delighted to be supporting The Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) in an exciting project which will engage and inspire communities to discover, conserve and enjoy the Iron Age hillforts of the Chilterns. The region has one of the largest collections of hillforts in the UK, yet many are poorly conserved, and little is known about them. We’re proud to be a partner in such a worthwhile undertaking. If you’d like to help us preserve these important historical features, please make a donation.

What are hillforts and what’s their relevance to the Chilterns?

Hillforts are earthworks constructed in many parts of England by our Iron Age ancestors. They were mostly used as places of refuge in times of trouble. The larger ones are surrounded by one or more defensive walls, enclosing an inner area where communities could keep themselves, their possessions and their livestock safe. At present we’re aware of 22 sites in the Chilterns. Although a few are well known and well preserved, the sites as a whole haven’t been researched as thoroughly as collections of such monuments elsewhere. What’s more, we believe there may be others waiting to be discovered.

Why are hillforts so important?

They’re virtually the only major constructions that have survived from this ancient time. Because they’re earthworks, they now form part of our modern day Chiltern landscape, adding to its diversity and beauty. Cholesbury Camp, one of the Society’s own sites, is a particularly impressive example. In Victorian times it was planted with beech trees, the intention being to preserve the earthworks from erosion. The trees are now mature and have created a beautiful shaded area for walking & recreation, the appearance of which changes with the seasons.

Why do they need protecting?

These earthworks are at risk in much the same way as the Chilterns in general. Some are so well known, or so close to urban areas, that they need protection from being over-visited. Those that are not well known are at risk from indifference, neglect and unintentional vandalism.

What is the project aiming to achieve?

There are four main goals:

  1. To survey and further research the known hillforts, looking for previously undiscovered prehistoric features in densely wooded areas using LiDAR* technology
  2. To improve the interpretation of the hillforts and their landscapes, encouraging people to visit and enjoy them responsibly
  3. To bring the Iron Age world to life through programmes of events an educational activities
  4. To undertake practical conservation work on known and newly identified sites

The project has already received Lottery funding, so why does it need financial support from the public?

The Heritage Lottery Fund works on the principle of match-funding, in which the Fund matches, pound for pound, money raised by other contributors. As one of the CCB’s key partners, we’re committed to helping them achieve their match-funding. Why? Because, by making a relatively small contribution over the four years of the project, we’ll be helping to bring a total of almost £1million into the Chilterns, to further our passion for conserving a vital part of our landscape and its heritage; and through the educational work, we’ll raise awareness of the importance of conserving the Chilterns for future generations.

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Learning to scythe at Kingwood Common

The Kingwood Common Volunteers enjoyed a days scythe training this week with local scyther Clive Leeke. The team spent the day learning how to use and maintain these low-impact tools with the aim of using them to help restore and maintain the important open grassland and heath habitats on Kingwood Common. Reducing the dominance of bracken and bramble is a key task for our volunteers, and the scythes offer an efficient and rewarding method of carrying this out throughout the year.

Bracken is very invasive and quickly dominates the open glades if it isn’t controlled. Regular cutting reduces the bracken’s vigour and dominance allowing space for a diversity of wildflowers and grasses to develop.

This is part of a wider partnership project at Kingwood Common supported by the Nettlebed Estate and TOE2 with funding from Grundon Waste Management Ltd.

 

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Changes to National Planning Policy on the Way

We have recently submitted comments on the draft amendments to the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This is the national policy document that guides local authorities in the preparation of their local plans and in making decisions on planning applications.

The amendments proposed are to update the policies in the NPPF so that they accord with other consultations undertaken by the Government. Amendments include changes in the way that housing need is calculated, how local Councils are expected to monitor progress on housing and how Council’s should address pressure for development in the Green Belt.

Some of the main points in the our consultation response were as follows –

  • Amendments to the presumption in favour of sustainable development will give additional strength to the protection of AONBs and Green Belt.
  • The whole premise of the Housing Delivery Test is flawed, in that it involves sanctions against LPAs for something that is not wholly within their power to control.
  • We object to a new policy on exception sites for entry level homes in the Green Belt, which seems to allow for additional market housing to be slipped in.
  • Communications equipment such as masts and overhead cables have the potential to cause significant harm to landscapes, and this is particularly important in protected areas.
  • We support the principle of minimum density standards for city and town centres as this will help to reduce the pressure for development on the open countryside.
  • We do not support the removal of land from the Green Belt to allow development, and consider that housing numbers should be capable of being adjusted downwards where the only option to meet those numbers is to encroach on Green Belt
  • We welcome the more detailed test to be applied to demonstrate exceptional circumstances for removing land from the Green Belt.
  • Where no alternative can be found to Green Belt development (including in neighbouring districts) and exceptional circumstances exist, local authorities should be required wherever possible to create new areas of Green Belt with boundaries that can be defended in the long term.
  • We are disappointed that the reference to AONBs having the highest status of protection has been removed, there is no protection in relation to the setting of AONBs, and there are no policies for addressing cumulative impacts on AONBs and their settings.

Our  full response can be read here.

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Box Woodland Project at Wormsley Estate

This week, 30 of our volunteers returned to Wormsley Estate to help kick-start start the next phase of an exciting Box Woodland project that is being funded by a £50,000 grant from Network Rail. The funding will allow thousands of new tress to be planted on site, and we’re delighted to play an important part in the delivery of the project.

Building on the success of several years of creating Box Woodland in the Ibstone Valley, this project supported by Network Rail’s Woodland Creation Grant is a big step forward by supporting the creation of approximately 38 hectares of new Box Woodland and scrub habitat.

England’s first new Boxwood forest since Queen Elizabeth 1st is proposed on a steep, elevated chalk scree site recently cleared of beech forest by a storm, within a parcel of beech woodland. The site was selected in 2011 on a search to find a location similar to the 3 SSSI box woodlands in neighbouring counties. Small trial plots on the site 2012-13 have established a solid working method.

Box woodland has become scarce in England with less than a total of 20 hectares in the south east. Many locations favourable for box are now used for other purposes. Box is a native tree with a rich invertebrate fauna, and a long history as very useful to humans before the discovery of tropical hardwoods, particularly in music, tools, and art.

Network Rail is making funds available for biodiversity following unavoidable habitat loss resulting from the electrification of the Great Western Railway line. The aim is to support biodiversity projects that provide long lasting improvements to wildlife habitats.

The Chiltern Society have been working with The Estate for several years on this project and will continue to support the project with three practical volunteer work parties carrying out a variety of work from site preparation to planting to collecting seedlings.

 

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Best Brunch in the Chilterns

Help us to find the best brunch in the Chilterns!

‘Brunching’ has become increasingly popular over the last few years, with many local cafes and restaurants providing a fantastic range of dishes on their menu to attract brunch-loving customers. We thought it would be appropriate to jump on the bandwagon so this year, our Food & Drink Award will be focusing on our new favorite mealtime! Poached eggs, sour dough, chorizo and smashed avocado galore are definitely the order of the day. We wouldn’t say no to some fluffy pancakes or a scrummy granola bowl either! And of course a good cup of frothy coffee or a freshly pressed juice is absolutely essential to wash it down!

We want you to tell us where you love to brunch in the Chilterns. To nominate please click here and tell us about your preferred brunch spot, with a few words to explain why you enjoy eating there and what your favourite menu choices are.

The closing date for nominations is 30th June. After that, our judges will consider the nominations and make their shortlist of places to visit in person.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

We are passionate about supporting local eateries and food producers. To learn more about our annual Food & Drink Award, please click here.

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Volunteers get to work at Lindengate

Last week a group of our volunteers spent the morning at Lidengate, helping to enhance the habitats in their wildlife area focussing on the boundary hedge. Volunteers worked hard to clear bramble and cut back the sides to help thicken the hedge up making it more attractive for a range of species from nesting birds to small mammals that rely on the hedge for cover from predators.

Lindengate is mental health charity based in Wendover that offers specialised gardening activities to help those with mental health needs. The charity believes that the healing power of nature and the outdoors can do a great deal to improve mental wellbeing, boost self-esteem & social inclusion and encourage long-term recovery. We’re proud to be collaborating with such a worthwhile local organisation and look forward to returning there again later this week for our next volunteer session.

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Influencing Local Planning Policy

The Chiltern Society has always taken a keen interest in the planning policies being developed by the Local Planning Authorities across the Chilterns area. With the scale of development across the region likely to increase significantly over the next twenty years, it is essential that we take an active approach to influencing the contents of the emerging Local Plans. These plans are being developed by each local authority and their primary aims are to set planning policy for the next twenty years or so, and identify sites that are considered suitable for development.

As the housing targets now being set by the local authorities have been significantly increased, there is increasing pressure to use land located in the Green Belt or the Chilterns AONB and its setting for housing. In order to address the increasing workload arising from these plans, we have appointed a new Planning Officer, Colin Blundel, specifically to work with our Planning Group on planning policy matters. Since his appointment in September 2017, the we have sent in representations on the following Local Plans:

Buckinghamshire County Council – Minerals and Waste Local Plan – Preferred Options

  • We were concerned that there was no reference to preserving the openness of the Green Belt in the Vision Statement.
  • Whilst we supported the policies on the Green Belt and Chilterns AONB, more emphasis could be put on protecting the setting of the AONB.
  • We identified the minerals and waste sites that were located within the Chilterns and stressed that great care will be required with the design and restoration of these proposals to ensure that they do not cause long term harm to the character and appearance of their location.
    Read our full response here

Wycombe District Council – Local Plan Publication Draft

  • We considered that the allocation of a site for 100 houses at Mill Road, Stokenchurch was unsound because the Plan failed to recognise it as major development within an AONB.
  • We were not satisfied that the proposed policy relating to the Chilterns AONB was consistent with national policy as it did not require major developments to demonstrate that they were in the public interest.
  • Amongst the allocations were a number of sites that may impact on the AONB and we asked that the wording of the policies referred to conserving and enhancing the AONB, rather than just limiting the impact.
    Read our full response here

South Oxfordshire District Council – Local Plan Publication Draft

  • The Plan did not include a separate policy in relation to the Chilterns AONB, and was, therefore, inconsistent with the plans of neighbouring authorities.
  • The Council had not given sufficient weight to the AONB to meet their statutory duties under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and to be consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework.
  • We were concerned about the high level of growth proposed in South Oxfordshire over the Plan period and whether this has been sufficiently justified in terms of impacts on the AONB.
  • It is not clear how the Council has taken into consideration the AONB in arriving at housing targets for individual settlements.
    Read our full response here

Dacorum Borough Council – Local Plan Issues and Options

  • We considered that a co-ordinated regionalised approach was required between local authorities to identify the locations for housing development on a more regional basis to try to reduce pressure for development in the AONB and Green Belt.
  • More references to the Chilterns AONB and the Green Belt should be included in the Vision Statements relating to the main settlements.
  • We were broadly in support of the settlement hierarchy approach proposed, concentrating on the larger settlements. Is has to be remembered, however, that the towns are immediately surrounded by the Chilterns Landscape, including both the AONB and the Green Belt.
  • We considered that encroachment into the Green Belt must be a last resort for development. As the Plan emerges it will need to demonstrate that it has fully considered brownfield sites, sites within towns and villages and sites outside the Green Belt and AONB before considering Green Belt boundary changes and site allocations.
    Read our full response here

Aylesbury Vale District Council – Local Plan Submission Draft

  • We considered that the allocation of the RAF Halton site could lead to the site’s removal from the Green Belt in the long term and would therefore not be consistent with national policy.
  • The RAF Halton site is located entirely within the Green Belt and in the immediate setting of the Chilterns AONB. Therefore, we considered that any development here must be carefully designed to fully respect these designations.
  • We agreed with the Council that the RAF Halton site should be retained within the Green Belt and we would expect the Council to re-use existing buildings where possible, and particularly the existing Listed barracks blocks.
    Read our full response here

 

 

 

 

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PhotoGroup 2018 Exhibition

Our PhotoGroup’s 2018 online exhibition has just opened, and is now in its 14th year. There are nearly 300 photos in the 2018 collection, all contributed by our Chiltern based members.

Landscapes are the most popular subjects, closely followed by some spectacular Flora and Fauna. The Heritage category also boasts some interesting features from around the Chilterns.

Our guest reviewer this year is Terry Coffey, a judge with the Chiltern Association of Camera Clubs. He cast his eye over the submissions and has offered a valuable critique which can be read here.

Terry particularly liked this wonderful shot of a red kite over smoky Turville by Michael King. Our members seem to be particularly good at finding and photographing lovely birds, butterflies and other insects. Of course there are plenty of images of stunning Chiltern scenes to remind us of the beautiful countryside that we are so lucky to have on our doorstep.

We will be featuring submissions from PhotoGroup members increasingly on our Twitter, Instagram & Facebook pages. So be sure to follow us @chilternsociety so you don’t miss out on some spectacular photographs!

 

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Kingwood Common Group Get To Work!

On 1st November, our brand new Kingwood Common Conservation Group officially launched with it’s first volunteering session.

Twenty-five volunteers rolled up their sleeves to clear bracken, bramble and self-seeded saplings from the open glades to help restore this important heathland and acid grassland habitat near Nettlebed.

Kingwood Common, a County Wildlife Site, is characteristic of a neglected heath consisting largely of oak, birch and bracken. However, pockets of lowland heath and dry acid grassland areas still survive. These habitats support a range of species, including heath bedstraw, heath milkwort, heather/ling and bell heather, that are not found in other habitats.  These species are are nationally rare, particularly so in Oxfordshire.

Our volunteers have been working in partnership with the Nettlebed Estate for many years carrying out access improvements across the Nettlebed Commons. An opportunity arose to work again with the Nettlebed Estate to support the Nettlebed and District Commons Conservators in delivering the Kingwood Common Conservation Management Plan, so, after months of preparations, we are delighted that this new conservation group is now finally established.

Kingwood Common is an important site for biodiversity and heritage and is a wonderful natural asset for the local community. We are thrilled to play an important role in caring for it.

The Group’s next session is being held on Saturday 18th November from 10am to 1pm. All are welcome to attend and lend a hand. For more information and to register your interest, please send an email to Matthew Davis, our Kingwood Common Group Leader.

This project is supported by TOE2 with funding from Grundon Waste Management Ltd.

 

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Congratulations to our North Chilterns Path Maintenance Volunteers

A HUGE well done to our NCMPV group who achieved Highly Commended in the Dacorum Borough Council Community Champion Awards, which recognises individuals and groups who go out of their way to make Dacorum a cleaner, safer and greener place to live.

Les Mosco, the group leader, along with seven of our regular volunteers were presented the award by Mayor of Dacorum Cllr David Collins at a presentation ceremony earlier this month.

For more information about the work of path maintenance groups and how you could get involved, please click here.

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Kingwood Common – Get Involved!

Get hands on and help to protect your local landscape by volunteering with our brand new Kingwood Common Conservation Group. All are welcome to join us at the group’s official launch on Wednesday 1st November. This is the first work party for the new group, which will subsequently run twice a month.

We’ll be undertaking a range of conservation work to protect the biodiversity of this unique common in partnership with the Nettlebed and District Commons Conservators.

No special skills are needed, just come with your boots, old clothes and some work gloves if you have them.

Hand tools and briefings will be provided, along with light refreshments at break time.

You’ll need to be aged 18 or over, reasonably fit, and have plenty of enthusiasm.

Give Volunteering a try – it’s great for your wellbeing and a fabulous way to get active, learn more about the environment, enjoy what we have so close to us, and have fun with like-minded people.

Details:

1st November
9:45am – 1:00pm
Meeting and parking at Cherry Croft, RG9 5NA

For more information and to register your interest in attending, please send an email to Matthew Davis, our Kingwood Common Group Leader.

This project is supported by TOE2 with funding from Grundon Waste Management Ltd.

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Craft Beer Award Presentation

The culmination of this year’s Food & Drink Awards took place at Tring Brewery earlier this month. Our Chairman presented certificates to the owners of Tring, Rebellion and Chiltern Breweries so that they now have a truly local award to add to their collections!

In order to seek out the best Chiltern Brewery, our judges visited five local breweries shortlisted from those nominated by the public to take a brewery tour, hear about their beginnings and their ambitions for the future and learn about their efforts to work in an environmentally friendly way. The most important part of the quest was the beer tasting in July where six experts bravely sampled 15 different beers.

The results were soon clear – Tring Brewery was not only winner for the North Chilterns, but overall winner. Chilterns Brewery is the Central Chilterns Champion, and Rebellion took the honours for the South Chilterns. Many congratulations to these three Craft Beer Heroes.

The Craft Beer Award is kindly sponsored by NFU Mutual.

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Planning Campaign Leader

Are you passionate about protecting the Chilterns as a unique and special place to live ? Do you have the drive and commitment to lead a successful campaign, building support from our community and other organisations to influence local and national government ?

Our Planning Group urgently needs a Campaign Leader to step up our campaign to prevent unsustainable development into the Chilterns Area of Outstanding National Beauty and Green Belt.  You’ll be used to working in a volunteering role, and how to work with other volunteers to achieve results.

We’re looking for someone, maybe from a marketing background, with skills and experience in leadership, communication and management of diverse stakeholders to influence senior levels of local and national government.  There is no need for detailed knowledge of planning regulations, as you will have support from experts in our Planning Group.  However you do need an understanding of how government operates and how to collaborate with other organisations in the area such as the Chilterns Conservation Board, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Natural England, District and County Councils.

The role needs to drive out tangible results from our already publicised Planning Manifesto.  This safeguards the AONB, protects the Green Belt, overhauls the methods for calculating housing need, scales infrastructure, favours brownfield and infill usage, and promotes good building design.  The first goal is to build a coalition of MPs across the Chilterns to support our Manifesto and change housing calculations.  The Chiltern Society supports the needs of local businesses and affordable housing for local people, rather than  unfettered free market priority for multi-million pound commuterland.

To discuss more about how you could fit this role please contact:

Merrin Molesworth: merrin@molesworth.me : tel: 01494 773381

Michael Jepson: amichael.jepson@gmail.com tel: 01494 837602

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Chiltern Society Seasonal Gin Launch

We are delighted to announce the launch of our first limited edition Seasonal Gin, flavoured with cherry blossom, elderflower and orange.

This delicious gin has been specially created for us by the Wayfinders Distillery in Beaconsfield. Laurie Othen, the enterprising owner of Wayfinders, is excited to be part of this project and has generously offered to donate profits from the sale of the gin to the Chiltern Society in order to support our conservation work in the Chilterns.

The botanicals which give the gin its unique flavour were foraged in the Chilterns countryside by Fred The Forager from The Wild Side of Life.  It was then down to Wayfinders to combine the ingredients to come up with the final product which really offers a true taste of the Chilterns.

At the launch event held at Northolt Barn at the Chiltern Open Air Museum, guests were able to taste the classic combination of Summer Gin and tonic or more adventurously, Summer Gin and all-natural fresh apple juice kindly donated by Chiltern Ridge of Chartridge. Both combinations proved very popular.

Summer Gin is available to purchase here.

Every bottle sold will be helping our efforts to preserve the Chilterns countryside. What better excuse could there be a glass or two of this wonderful seasonal gin?

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Paws in the Chilterns

We want to celebrate our furry friends who enjoy the countryside as much as we do!

Many of you would probably agree that one of the best ways to enjoy the Chilterns is alongside a four legged companion. Walking the dog is so much more than just a part of the daily routine; it can often provide moments of calm and tranquillity in an otherwise chaotic world. It can be a wholesome and therapeutic activity, a chance to explore parts of the countryside that you might not have done otherwise, a chance to share moments as a family and even an opportunity to meet new people. Perhaps most of all, it can bring such happiness to see your dog (or dogs!) experiencing such delight as they run around and explore new places with their tails a wagging!

Our conservation and path maintenance volunteers work hard so you can enjoy the countryside at its best. But we know that people aren’t the only ones to appreciate their efforts! We love the fact that dogs also reap the benefits of the pathways, woodlands and commons that we work hard to maintain.

To celebrate this, we’re launching a Paws in the Chilterns campaign! We would like you to share with us pictures of your dogs enjoying the Chilterns. The three winning dogs will each receive a voucher to redeem at Sypmly Pet Foods; a local pet food producer based in Chesham that makes pet food free from artificial colours, preservatives and flavours.

To be in with a chance of winning, here’s what you need to do:

1)      Take a photo of your dog (and you if you’d like) enjoying the countryside.

2)      Either email it to us at office@chilternsociety.org.uk OR share it with us on Facebook & Twitter using #PawsInTheChilterns (don’t forget to tag us in the post using @ChilternSociety)

3)      Include the name of your dog and where the photo was taken

4)      If your dog would like to show his or her appreciation for the work that we do, please text ‘CHIL02 £5’ to 70070 make a £5 donation.

We look forward to receiving your photos!

In order for your entry to qualify, please submit it via the methods above no later than 31st October.

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Craft Beer Award- The Results!

The final vital stage of our Craft Beer Award, the all important beer tasting, took place on Saturday 22nd July. The judging panel consisted of members of the Society’s Save Our Pubs team, along with CAMRA’s central southern director, Carl Griffin.

The intrepid judges bravely tasted no less than 15 different beers provided by our shortlisted local breweries. The tasting process was carried out with the utmost rigour.

The beer tasting was naturally the most important part of the journey to seek out the best brewery in the Chilterns. Now that the scores for all criteria have been calibrated, we are delighted to announce that the winner for the North Chilterns and overall winning company is Tring Brewery. Their Pale Four was very popular with the judges. The Central Chilterns champion is Chiltern Brewery whose highest rated ale was John Hampden Golden Harvest . Our Southern Chilterns winner is Rebellion Brewery of Marlow. The tasters very much appreciated Rebellion’s Zebedee beer.

Lovibonds of Henley and Malt The Brewery of Prestwood both achieved Highly Commended status for the quality of their beers.

The presentation to these fantastic five Chiltern breweries will take place in October. Look out for full details of the Craft Beer Award in the winter issue of Chiltern magazine.

The Craft Beer Award is kindly sponsored by NFU Mutual.

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Chilterns Food Magazine

Fancy getting a true taste of the Chilterns? Learning more about its producers, restaurants and local food heroes? Why not pick up a copy of the new Chilterns Food Magazine, the only publication dedicated to telling these stories and to encouraging readers to buy locally and eat seasonally. The beautiful new Summer issue of the Magazine is out now, and it is full-to-bursting with food treats: visit Lacey’s Family Farm, and discover how to make your own yoghurt at home with their amazing milk; cook up a summer feast with recipes using watercress and cherries; plus discover more about Crockers Chef’s Table, an inventive new restaurant outside of Berkhamsted. And much, much more.

The new Summer issue is available to buy for just £3 at stockists across the Chilterns, or online at: www.chilternsfoodmagazine.co.uk/shop

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2017 – A Year of Excellence in Chilterns Building Design

On Thursday 15th June, the presentation event took place for the winners of our 2017 Buildings Design Awards. It was held in the glorious setting of the Hundred Hills Vineyard near Henley which was the well deserved winner of our competition.

The event was attended by the successful owners, architects and builders in addition to our Chairman David Harris, Sue Holden (Chief Officer of the Chilterns Conservation Board) and several members of the Judging Panel.

Stephen and Fiona Duckett, the owners of the winning property were awarded a prestigious plaque which we’re sure they will display with pride. Heinz and Jenny Richardson of House 19, Amersham received a Highly Commended certificate, whilst Nick and Wendy Sargent of the Old Sawmill, Frieth and representatives of Shiplake College near Henley both received Commended certificates.

After the presentation, the guests were delighted to be given a tour of Hundred Hills Vineyard, which was certainly looking its beautiful on a sunny summer’s day. Thanks to Stephen and Fiona Duckett for graciously hosting this fantastic event.

The Chilterns Buildings Design Awards are jointly organised and funded by the Chiltern Society & the Chilterns Conservation Board to encourage outstanding architectural achievements in our area.

Winner: The Winery at the One Hundred Hills Vineyard, Stonor Valley

Owners – Stephen & Fiona Duckett
Architect – Ian Brown, Nichols Brown Webber LLP
Builder – Kingerlee Ltd, Kidlington, Oxon

 

Highly Commended: House 19, Amersham

Owners – Heinz and Jenny Richardson
Architect – Heinz Richardson,  Jestico + Whiles, London
Builder – Stephen Kramer, SK (London) Contracts Management, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts

Commended: The Old Sawmill, Parmoor, Frieth 

Owner – Nick and Wendy Sargent Skillbond Ltd
Architect – Roger Danks, Danks Badnell Architects Ltd, Windsor
Project Manager – Skillbond Ltd, Fawley Green, Henley

 

Commended: The John Turner Building, Shiplake College 

Headmaster – Gregg Davies
Architect – Mark Webber, Nichols Brown Webber LLP
Builder – Bryan Doyle, Edgar Taylor, Buckingham

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We’re hiring!

A rare opportunity has arisen to be a key player in the Chiltern Society’s Planning Group, a team of knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers working hard to help preserve the natural beauty and tranquility of the Chilterns by protecting it from inappropriate developments and promoting its special qualities.

The Chiltern Society is looking for an experienced Planning officer to be part of the Planning Group and take guidance from the Chairman of that group in providing them with professional support in responding to National Planning Consultations Local Plans and Planning Applications. The successful candidate will report to the Chairman of the Society.

The Role
The Planning Officer will be part of the Chiltern Society Planning Group
As well as providing support to that Group, the successful applicant will also work closely with the Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) on planning matters in an effort to avoid duplication of effort. The CCB is a statutory body focusing on the Chilterns AONB, but otherwise we have common objectives. Another aspect of the job is to provide data for the Society’s Planning Campaign Group to assist in future Chiltern Society planning campaigns and initiatives.

The hours are negotiable depending on the individual recruited and initially on a one year contract. The successful applicant will be expected to work at least one day per week in the Chesham office.

The Person
The successful candidate will be highly self-motivated, have high levels of professional expertise, a relevant Planning qualification, up-to-date knowledge of Planning Rules (legislation) policy and Guidance, have experience of dealing with and working on Local Plans and Planning applications, be a good communicator and have a full UK driving licence. It is desirable that the candidate will be a full member of the Royal Town Planning Institute or equivalent, although we will consider all candidates with suitable professional experience.
Candidates should also be willing to attend occasional meetings outside the agreed hours of employment. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, experience and cultures regardless of gender, marital status disability or race.

Benefits
In addition to a competitive salary, the successful candidate will be entitled to a contributory pension, out of pocket expenses and a proportionate holiday entitlement.

Location: Chesham, Bucks

Salary: c£35k (FTE)

Hours: Negotiable
How to apply
Applicants should in the first instance contact our General Secretary at generalsecretary@chilternsociety.org.uk or send their application by post to:

The Chiltern Society
The White Hill Centre
White Hill
Chesham
Bucks
HP5 1AG

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We’ve joined the Walking Partnership

The Chiltern Society is delighted to have recently joined The Walking Partnership.

This partnership, supported by RWH Travel Limited, provides financial contributions to help charities organise group walks, improve and clear footpaths, provide equipment to help walkers and promote walking in general. Over the past 65 years, the company has donated millions of pounds to assist walking charities and conservation projects in Britain and the countries they visit on their worldwide holidays.

RWH Travel Limited operates group walking and activity holidays in the UK and all around the world. Each holiday is accompanied by a qualified leader, so you can leave all the organising to them and just enjoy yourself. Walking holidays are graded according to preferences and abilities and there is a full range from sightseeing to hutting holidays. Take a look at their website and explore the full range of walking and experience holidays at www.rwhtravel.com, or give them a call on 01707 331133 for more details or to order a brochure.

By quoting ‘The Chiltern Society’ when you book, we will receive a contribution of £10 per person on UK holidays, £20 per person on short haul holidays, and £30 per person on long haul holidays. Encouraging people to get outdoors and explore the countryside on foot has always been very important to us, and this extra funding will help us continue to do that.

For more details, visit The Walking Partnership website.

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Craft Beer Award

Following the nomination period which closed at the end of April, we can reveal that five shortlisted breweries which received the most nominations from the public are:

Chiltern Brewery
Lovibonds
Malt The Brewery
Rebellion Brewery
Tring Brewery

Lots of people were eager to tell us about their favourite tipple, and our judges look forward to visiting each brewery in turn.

In July our panel of beer experts will be tasting a selection of beers from each brewery and will decide which are the best craft beers in the Chilterns.

The presentation to the winners will take place in October. Watch this space!

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Chilterns Building Design Awards 2017 – The Results

We are delighted to announce that our team of judges have chosen the winning buildings for this year’s award.

Our judges undertook a marathon journey to visit the eight shortlisted properties in early May, followed by very serious and detailed deliberations to choose the developments which best match the awards criteria.

The overall winner is the Hundred Hills Vineyard in the Stonor Valley, designed by Nichols Brown Webber of Henley. It was chosen because it significantly enhances the site and locality, completely harmonises with its setting, the use of high quality local materials, attention to detail and above all its relationship to the special character of the Chilterns.

A Highly Commended award will be given to Jestico & Whiles of London for a domestic project in Amersham which is completely carbon neutral, uses local materials and achieves a highly cool and contemporary effect whilst still being very much part of the Chilterns. The details are of the highest standard.

Commended awards will be given to Nichols Brown Webber of Henley for a new art, music and resource centre at Shiplake College and to Danks Badnell of Windsor for a very interesting domestic development in Frieth successfully combining two disparate buildings. Both of these also have strong eco credentials.

The winner will receive a blue plaque and the runners up will be awarded certificates.

The Buildings Deign Awards are run jointly with the Chilterns Conservation Board.

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NEW: Chiltern Way Guide

At long last, our updated guide to the Chiltern Way has now been published and is available to purchase from our online shop.

This is the official companion to the famous 134 mile circular walking route that was established by the Chiltern Society back in 2000.  Offering breath taking views of the rolling landscape, the route stretches around the AONB and is enjoyed by thousands of walkers every year.

This comprehensive guide includes detailed maps, photos and step by step guidance to help you on your way.

Price: £11.99

Buy your copy here.

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2017 Food & Drink Award

We are delighted to announce the launch of our 2017 Food & Drink Award focusing on the fantastic array of Craft Beer created by our local microbreweries.  To nominate the Chiltern craft brewer whose beers you most enjoy,  please email volunteer@chilternsociety.org.uk and send us a few words about why your chosen brewery has impressed you and which of their beers you most appreciate.

We would also love to hear what you think are the essential aspects of great craft beer.  Your suggestions will feed into our judging criteria.

The closing date for nominations is April 30th 2017 after which our judging team will be out visiting the breweries which have received the greatest number of nominations.

Our tasting team, composed of members of the Society’s Save Our Pubs Group, are looking forward to sampling a selection of beers from the shortlisted breweries. A winning brewery will be chosen for each of the following three areas – North, Central and South Chilterns.

Please do take part in the nomination process. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

For more information about our awards, click here.

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HS2 Bill receives Royal Assent

As expected, after the House of Commons approval of the House of Lords’ minor amendments to the HS2 Bill, it received Royal Assent on 23 February

The Chiltern Society is disappointed that further mitigation was not provided for the Chilterns AONB and the Colne Valley. However, mitigation funds of £3,000,000 for are in place for each area.

Over the last three months, HS2 Ltd has been carrying out borehole evaluations throughout the Chilterns. The results are expected to be available in March. These may result in further changes to the design.

The next stage is for a main contractor to be appointed. They will be responsible for developing a detailed design for each section of the route. Construction work is expected to begin in the summer of 2018.

We would like to thank all of you who have supported our efforts to fight this unnecessary scheme. The Society will continue to monitor what HS2 is doing and to liaise with the HS2 Review Groups for the AONB and the Colne Valley.

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Chilterns Building Design Awards 2017

We are proud to announce the launch of our annual Buildings Design Awards, run jointly with the Chilterns Conservation Board.

The purpose of these awards is to promote excellence in the design of new buildings in the AONB and wider Chilterns. We are looking for projects which are particularly sympathetic to the character of our special area.

This is a great opportunity to showcase a successful building project. Entries are welcome from architects, builders, planners and the public. The deadline for submissions is March 1st.

When our judges visit the shortlisted projects they will apply the advice given in the Chilterns Buildings Design Guide. The awards presentation will take place in June.

For more details of the application criteria and how to submit a project, please click here.

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Saving pubs across the Chilterns

During 2016 volunteers from our ‘Save Our Pubs Group’ contributed to a number of campaigns to protect pubs across the Chilterns, either threatened with change of use or demolition and redevelopment.

A Retrospective planning application was submitted in April for changes to the Windmill PH in Charlton, Herts . An objection was lodged by the Chiltern Society and the application was unanimously rejected by the local Planning Committee.

The Chiltern Society supported the local community group both in writing and verbally at an appeal in May following the Council’s refusal to grant change of use for the White Lion at St Leonards, Bucks. In October the Government Inspector dismissed the appeal and the pub has subsequently been put up for sale.

A planning application to build bed and breakfast units and two houses on the site of the White Lion PH at Crays Pond near Goring was submitted in September. The Chiltern Society objected and in December the application was withdrawn. In addition South Oxon District Council won a case in court when the owner failed to comply to a previous order to vacate the premises . This resulted in a £1000 fine plus costs.

In December an objection was lodged against an application to demolish the Radcliffe Arms in Hitchin, Herts and build 4 flats and 3 houses on the site. There was also strong local opposition and the application has now been withdrawn by the owners.

The ‘Save Our Pubs’ Group will continue to support threatened pubs on a case by case basis and if you would like to join our group of volunteers then please contact the Society Office.

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2017 Online Exhibition

We are delighted to announce that our talented PhotoGroup has just published it’s 2017 online exhibition which contains over 350 stunning photos from across the Chilterns, as well as other places in the UK.

You can view the exhibition by clicking here. It really is worth a browse.

We’re also thrilled that the latest addition to the Group’s ‘Special Collections’ is an album of photographs by Clive Ormonde who has devoted a lot of his spare time to conservation work in the Chilterns, including assisting with the restoration of Ewelme Watercress Beds and helping toads cross the busy A4155 road.

Clive first volunteered to work on conservation projects aged 22 and he has revisited some of these worksites, recording their features in superb photographs, many of which have been reproduced in books. His pictures are taken south west of Henley-on-Thames, an area which Clive has explored it extensively mostly on foot and on his bike.

You can enjoy this new photobiography, which also tells us a lot about its author in his extended captions, by clicking here.

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Chiltern Society Real Bread Award 2016

This year’s award has focussed on ‘real bread’ producers. By ‘real bread’ we mean bread that is made using traditional methods, containing no artificial additives.
Our judges have now tried and tested loaves from all of our contending bakeries, and after careful consideration, we are delighted to announce the results.

Overall winner: the Rex Bakery, Little Chalfont
South Chilterns winner: Burgers of Marlow
North Chilterns winner: Jo’s Loaves of Luton

The judging criteria were based on taste, texture, appearance, locally sourced ingredients, customer experience and, of course, the key requirement that the bread was baked without additives and using traditional methods.
Our winners were the bakers achieving the highest scores against these criteria. The judges were highly impressed by the fantastic loaves they tasted and the wonderful range of loaves on offer. Hearty congratulations to our three winners!

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