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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Win a Chilterns Christmas Hamper worth over £450

Our annual Chilterns Christmas Hamper competition is back, and this time we are offering you the chance to win our most extravagant hamper yet in another prize draw!

Once again, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of local Chilterns food and drink producers who have donated some seriously delicious items for this year’s hamper. We would like to thank them for their support.

To enter the prize draw, please click here.  Each entry costs £5.00. All funds raised will help our ongoing work to protect and preserve the Chilterns landscape. 

The lucky winner of the hamper will undoubtedly be thrilled with the wonderful variety of goodies and decadent treats that it contains. Please see below the list of delicacies donated this year and a little background information about each of the local producers who have contributed…

Auberge Du Chocolat – 3 large bars of chocolate 

A unique artisan family business with a passion for chocolate, ice cream and fudge, Anne and Ian Scott have been making chocolate in the Chilterns since 2005. Now based in Chesham and firmly established as a maker of premium luxury chocolate, the awards have come flooding in. They also run workshops, parties and corporate events

Beechwood Fine Foods – A jar of chutney & a jar of marmalade 

Beechwood is a farm shop and café in Frogmore Street, Tring.  One of the star products is their excellent range of chutneys and jams, homemade by the shop’s owner Sarah.  Their other locally-sourced produce includes fresh bread, cakes, hand-raised pork pies, and a range of cheeses. 

Burgers Artisan Bakery – A beautiful Christmas cake 

Burgers is a craft bakery and tearoom in the heart of Marlow.  The Burger family have been baking their artisan breads fresh every day and creating their fabulous chocolates since 1942.  They have a wide range of delicious loaves which helped them win a Chiltern Society Award for real bread in 2016. 

Chess Valley Lamb – £50 voucher 

Chess Valley Lamb is part of Chess Valley Livestock, which was set up by Scott Horton and Paul Jennings in 2012 and moved to Raans Farm in Amersham in 2013. They sell their fresh delicious lamb directly to the public and to many local high-end restaurant businesses. Their generous donation of a £50 gift voucher means that the lucky winner of our hamper will have the opportunity to enjoy some of the best lamb available in our region. 

Chiltern Brewery – A Christmas pudding and 2 bottles of Cream Porter 

Another local business that has gained an enviable nationwide reputation, Chiltern is the oldest independent brewery in the region. A family-run business located on an old working farm in the heart of the Chiltern Hills at Terrick, the emphasis has always been on producing natural, wholesome beers using the best British malt and hops. Their excellent farm shop features many products made using Chiltern beer.

Chiltern Charcuterie – A selection of handmade cured meats 

From their curing kitchen on a small farm in North Dean, Chiltern Charcuterie produces award-winning salamis and air-dried meat products. Made from free-range pork, grass-fed beef and lamb, as well as ethically sourced venison, all their meat is sourced from local independent farms. An award-winner at the 2018 Great Taste awards, their charcuterie brings a taste of the continent to the Chilterns.

Chiltern Cold Pressed – Gift Pack of 5 flavoured oils 

The Mead family has been farming in the Chilterns since 1860. They began making Chiltern Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Rapeseed oil in 2009 and have since extended their collection to include a range of infused oils, salad dressings, sauces and marinades. Their oils have won many national food awards and have even featured in an episode of the BBC’s Escape To The Country.

Chiltern Natural Foods – Premium nuts
Based in High Wycombe, Chiltern Natural Foods manufactures hand roasted, healthy flavoured, nuts and seeds and a range of whole grain, no salt, no wheat, low sugar granolas. Their mission is to make premium foods – including many glutenfree products – which are all natural but still taste great. After the excesses of Christmas Day what better than a healthy, natural, Boxing Day breakfast? 

Chiltern Ridge – 2 bottles of apple juice and 2 bottles of dry apple cider 

Pure 100% apple juice with nothing added’ is the credo behind this Chartridge based producer. A family run business, Chiltern Ridge juice is now available in many local farm shops as well as Budgens supermarkets. In addition to producing their own juice, Chiltern Ridge will press your apples into a delicious pasteurised juice. Their farm shop also sells pork and lamb and they even have B&B accommodation on site.

Chiltern Society – Scented Candle 

Bring nature indoors with our English Bluebell scented candle which emits a fresh floral fragrance of beautiful bluebells in bloom. Our candles are handmade locally using made using premium soy wax, 100% cotton wicks. Stylishly presented in locally sourced packaging, each candle is truly unique and will cast an atmospheric light on these dark winter evenings. 

Daws Hill Vineyard – Sparkling apple cider  

Christmas would not be Christmas without a drop of something fizzy, and at Daws Hill Vineyard in Radnage they specialise in making it! Founded in 2004, Daws Hill now produces a range of brut and rose sparkling wine and an excellent bottle-fermented sparkling cider. International awards have included a bronze medal, won at the prestigious Effervescents Du Monde competition in France.

Dizzy Bee Kitchen – 2 packets of granola    

Set up five years ago by Nicky Halloran, Dizzy Bee Kitchen produces healthy, additive-free granolas packed with nutritious ingredients such as lucuma, pumpkin, sunflower, chia, hemp, seeds, flax seeds, nuts, quinoa, oats and bran. A winner of five Great Taste awards, Nicky still makes all her batches of granola by hand. A delicious way to add essential nutrients to your Christmas diet.

Horsebox Coffee Co. – 2 packs of ground coffee 

Horsebox Coffee Company is an independent coffee roastery based on a quiet working farm in South Oxfordshire. They source sustainably cultivated green coffee from individual farms and cooperatives. Using the latest roasting technology, they consistently develop each coffee’s unique character. Alongside their muchloved signature blends from ethical farmers and co-operatives, they also offer an evolving range of seasonal single estate speciality coffees for those looking for a coffee adventure…

Jim and Jules Big Adventure – 3 jars of chutney 

This husband and wife team has been making chutney since 2008. Their ‘big adventure’ began when they needed to raise money to fund their wedding and chose chutney-making because Jim’s parents had a massive apple tree on their farm! From these unusual beginnings, they now make a range of chutneys and piccalilli. Their Scrummy apple chutney is a personal favourite and makes a great glaze for pork.

Knead Wood Fired Pizza – Voucher for 2 pizzas 

Knead Pizza is brainchild of husband and wife team, Simon and Olivia. The gift of a pizza oven is where it all startedthat and their passion for all things Italian. Cue waking at 6am to make dough for pizza parties (as demanded by friends!) and experimenting with all the toppings you can think of. Then came the spark of an idea. Why not just take what they love and share it with others? They purchased a beautiful classic van, gave her a faceliftfitted her out with a wonderful woodfired pizza oven and hit the road ready to delight the public with their delicious pizzas. They also offer events catering.

Laceys Family Farm Shop – Steak and stilton pie 

Based in Lane End, this farm shop has a great range of meat, dairy products and deli items, many of which come from the family farm.

Malt The Brewery – 3 assorted bottles of ale

Brewing since 2012, this brewery is set in the heart of the Chilterns in Great Missenden.  They pride themselves on their use of quality natural ingredients and traditional brewing.

Mama Dor’s Kitchen – A gift box of Indian spices 

Mama Dor’s Kitchen offers a wide range of spice blends that enable you to make authentic Indian food at home in a simple and healthy way. As well as being totally delicious, all the spice blends are sugar & gluten free, suitable for vegans and work beautifully with a wide variety of diets. Each blend is provided in an environmentally friendly, refillable glass spice jar. On top of that, every blend comes with a simple, easy to follow, laminated recipe card. Originating from India, all spice blends are authentic, homemade and have been passed down many generations of the Dor family kitchen! 

Nettlebed Creamery – Organic soft cheese 

Nettlebed Creamery makes Bix and St Bartholomew cheeses using milk from Merrimoles Farm. A fully organic operation since 2001, the farm’s fortunate cows graze on grass and clover leys enhanced with herbs such as chicory, plantain and yarrow. The end product is so good that in 2016 specialist cheese website www.cheesechap.com named Bix cheese one of the best five new cheeses in the UK.

Puddingstone Distillery – Bottle Campfire gin 

Puddingstone is the first gin distillery in Hertfordshire, situated at the base of Wilstone Reservoir, just five minutes from Tring. Pitching camp on the boundary between classic and contemporary gins, award winning Campfire Gin is produced in small batches. Why Campfire? Because Puddingstone’s founders, Ben and Kate were inspired by memories of fantastic evenings enjoying gin and tonics outdoors and around campfires. Look out for Campfire Gin in selected delicatessens, off licences, bars and restaurants, or visit their distillery shop for bottles, limited edition gins, gift vouchers and sampling.

RB Honey – Jar of honey 

At this apiary they take immense pride and dedicate time to care for their bees, not only ensuring that they can harvest the best tasting honey from happy bees, but also that the local bee population continues to thrive. All of their 100% natural honey is produced in the Chiltern Hills. Nothing is added, nothing is taken away. They don’t even mix honey from their different hives together.

Rebellion Beer Co. – 6 bottles of lager 

This highly successful brewery was established in 1993 to ensure the continuation of traditional brewing in Marlow after the closure of Wethereds.  Since then, Rebellion has gone from strength to strength.  Their ales are widely available in many local pubs and in their own brewery shop.  They won a Chiltern Society Award for Best Craft Beer in 2017.

Rumseys Handmade Chocolates – Dark chocolate buttons and hot chocolate flakes 

Master Chocolatier Nigel Rumsey has been making delicious artisan chocolate since 1991. He owns two delightful chocolaterie/cafes in Wendover and Thame.  In the Wendover café you can see the expert chocolatiers hand-creating the chocolates!

Salty Dog – Selection of crisps 

Home of the tastiest crisps you could shake a tail at. They make sure all their potatoes are of the highest pedigree. They are hand-cooked in sunflower oil for extra bite and seasoned with deliciously feisty flavours.

Teacups & Tandems – A voucher for 2 persons on a biscuit decorating workshop 

Founded by sisters Tarryn and Shannon, Teacups and Tandems specialise in bespoke cakes, biscuits and icing workshops. They are based in the lovely village of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire but supply cakes and biscuits far and wide. 

The Kitchen Mixer – 2 slices of Christmas cake  

The Kitchen Mixer is a little company that helps make life just that little bit sweeter. Whether it is a cake for a special occasion, afternoon tea for ten or just a dessert for your dinner party then The Kitchen Mixer can bake for you. Everything is made to order.

The Marlow Cheese Company – Pickle and 2 cheeses  

Reputed to be Buckinghamshire’s first ever cheese maker, Marlow Cheese was launched in Summer 2016. Cygnet, Bucks Blue and Regatta are their flagship products, all made using delicious whole milk from Lacey’s Dairy. Now on sale at many leading farm shops, including Peterley Manor and at Rebellion Brewery, Marlow Cheese has even been spotted on the menu at Michelin starred local restaurant, The Hand and Flowers.  

The Original Biltong Company – 6 packets of flavoured biltong 

The Original Biltong Company are purveyors of “the best biltong this side of South Africa” All of their beef is locally sourced, grass fed and hand reared. They believe in understanding the provenance of their meat, such as where the animal was raised, how it was treated, how it lived. They use an original family recipe that was handed down over more than 6 generations with no added MSG or sugar, and their products are gluten-free. They supply many pubs, sports clubs, delis and highend restaurants.

Tring Brewery Co. – 6 bottles of assorted ales 

The winner of our 2017 Chiltern Craft Beer of the Year award, Tring brewery has been making beer for 25 years. Now established at Dunsley Farm, they are well known for their unusually named beers (including my all-time favourite tipple, Side Pocket for a Toad), which all have strong connections with events, myths and legends from the surrounding Chilterns. Their beers are available from the brewery shop and many a good local pub. 

 

Competition Terms and Conditions  

  • All entrants must be over 18 years of age
  • Entrants can purchase as many tickets as they like 
  • Entries must be purchased by midnight on Sunday 15th December 2019
  • The hamper will be delivered to the winner’s address week commencing Monday 16th December 2019
  • The winner will be chosen at random 
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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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