Bucks CC - Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management by etssetcf


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									                         Report to the Cabinet Members for
                         Community Services and Planning
                                        and Transportation
                                             Decision to be taken on or after 10 July 2003

                           Decision to be implemented three working days after signing

                                                     Cabinet Member Report No. CS08/03

Title:               Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management
                     Strategy: The Framework For Action 2002-2007

Date:                2 July 2003

Author:              Head of Planning and Environment

Contact Officer:     Mike Woods, Group Manager, Countryside & Heritage – Telephone
                     01296 383758

Electoral Divisions Affected:

Marlow Rural, Stokenchurch, Aston Clinton and Weston Turville, Ivinghoe, Beaconsfield,
Amersham Town and Penn, Naphill, Icknield and Bledlow, Missenden Prestwood,
Missenden Ridings, Chesham West, Chalfont St. Peter West, Chalfont St. Giles, Chalfont St.
Peter East, Chesham North, Wendover, Marlow South, Booker and Castlefield, Wooburn,
Flackwell Heath, West Wycombe and Sands, Cressex and Frogmoor, Oakridge and Tinkers
Wood, Green Hill and Totteridge, Hazlemere North, Tylers Green, Amersham North and
Chesham Bois, Princes Risborough, Chesham East, Amersham East, and Marlow North.

Relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee:              Environment


The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (the CROW Act) places a duty on all public
bodies (including local authorities) and statutory undertakers to have regard to the purposes
of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Act specifically requires local
authorities with AONB responsibilities jointly to prepare and publish plans which formulate
their policy for the management of AONBs and for the carrying out of their functions in
relation to them. Where a Conservation Board has been formed, this responsibility falls to
the Board.

It is now necessary, in line with the requirements of the CROW Act, for the County Council to
formally adopt the Management Plan it has been party to preparing. This report summarises
the process by which the Management Plan has been developed, summarises the main
areas of work laid out in the accompanying three-year action plan and recommends the
formal adoption of the Management Plan by the Cabinet Members for Planning and
Transportation and Community Services on the County Council’s behalf.

The Cabinet Members are RECOMMENDED to:

Adopt on behalf of the County Council the Chilterns AONB Management Strategy in
pursuance of the duty under section 89(2b) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act

A.   Narrative setting out the reasons for the decision

     The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was designated in 1965. It
     covers 833km2 of Buckinghamshire (approximately 50% of the AONB is in the county),
     Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire. The Chilterns is one of 41 AONBs
     representing the finest landscapes in England and Wales outside National Parks.
     AONBs are nationally important landscapes of equal status to the National Parks.The
     Chilterns is one of the larger AONBs and spans the administrative boundaries of 15
     local authorities.

     The Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000, Part IV, places a duty on all
     public bodies (including local authorities) and statutory undertakers to have regard to
     the purposes of AONBs. It also specifically places a new duty on all local authorities
     with AONBs to prepare and publish a management plan for each AONB by 31 March
     2004. Where AONBs cross local authority administrative boundaries, as is the case
     with the Chilterns, Government guidance urges local authorities to utilise joint working
     mechanisms in plan preparation. These management plans will assist in ensuring a
     clear framework for action from a wide range of authorities, bodies and organisations.

     The process of preparing a joint management plan for the Chilterns AONB has been
     led by the shadow Chilterns Conservation Board, which replaced the Chilterns
     Conference in April 2001 (as approved by the County Council’s Countryside Sub-
     Committee in May 2000). The County Council representative on the shadow
     Conservation Board is Councillor Mrs Cherry Aston.

     The former Chilterns AONB Management Plan, which was adopted by the Chilterns
     Conference in 1994, became due for review in 1999. This virtually coincided with the
     new requirement in the CROW Act. The process of the review was led by the shadow
     Conservation Board, supported by the AONB Officer and team (the AONB Unit). Input
     was provided from County Council officers from relevant service areas through the
     various technical groups and panels that advise the Board.

     The shadow Conservation Board has completed its work on the Management Plan and
     approved the document. It has now been passed back to the constituent authorities for
     formal adoption by them.

     The completed management plan comprises the main document formally entitled The
     Chilterns AONB Management Strategy: The Framework for Action 2002-2007.
     There is also an accompanying three-year Action Plan (2002-2005). The main
     document comprises information on the special characteristics of the Chiltern Hills, a
     brief review of progress on the 1994 Plan and sets out broad aims and management
     policies arranged in thematic chapters. (A summary of the Management Plan is
     attached as Appendix 1. The full document is available from the Contact Officer or via
     the link in the Background Papers section below.
B.   Other options available, and their pros and cons

     As stated it is a statutory requirement for the County Council, in association with other
     relevant local authorities, to prepare and publish a management plan for the Chilterns
     AONB by 2004. The recently published Management Strategy, developed through the
     consultative process meets this requirement. It provides a framework for co-ordinating
     and directing management activity towards the conservation and enhancement of this
     nationally important landscape and the promotion of acceptable social and economic
     development. The Action Plan sets out a three-year work programme to implement the
     management policies.

     Whilst it is a requirement for the Management Strategy to be formally adopted by the
     AONB’s constituent local authorities as the management framework for the next five
     years, the Action Plan is an annually updated rolling programme coordinated by the
     AONB Unit led by the AONB Officer. It would not be practical or necessary for this
     to be formally and repeatedly adopted. Rather, constituent authorities have
     instead been requested to provide an assurance that they will endeavour to
     implement those parts of the Action Plan relevant to them.

C.   Resource implications

     The limitations of resources and changing corporate priorities are recognised by all
     partners to the Management Strategy. As such the Action Plan draws mainly on the
     partners’ existing and planned programmes of work. This is the case for the County
     Council and there is no conflict inherent in meeting the request for the County Council
     to provide an assurance that it will endeavour to implement those parts of the Action
     Plan relevant to it. Indeed any resource requirements will be met from existing
     resource requirements. Furthermore the widespread partnership and support to the
     Management Strategy should significantly add value to the County Council’s work

     The draft document was prepared with extensive input from officers of the County
     Council from various service areas and when considering the document in October
     2001 the Community Services Policy Advisory Group approved a detailed officer
     response raising further points for amendment. Therefore, the final Strategy
     complies with the existing policies and values of the County Council. Formal
     adoption of the Strategy can therefore be recommended.

     A summary overview of the Action Plan and how these will involve various County
     Council services are set out in Appendix 2.

D.   Legal implications

     Formal adoption of the Management Strategy will meet the County Council’s duty
     under Section 89(2b) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

E.   Other implications/issues

     The process of preparing the Management Strategy has included reviewing the
     context of the Chilterns AONB nationally, regionally and locally. In particular this has
     included reviewing other relevant policies, strategies and legislation to ensure the
     Management Strategy is integrated with these. The Strategy deals primarily with
     landscape and land use issues and as such there is much cross-reference to planning,
     agricultural/forestry and environmental policies. There are also overlaps with other
     strategies, most notably community strategies and local transport plans to ensure
     integration and wherever possible avoiding conflict or contradiction between these and
     the AONB Management Strategy.

F.   Feedback from consultation and Local Member views

     A widespread public consultation exercise was undertaken by the shadow
     Conservation Board for the preparation of the Management Plan between December
     2000 and February 2001. This included distribution of a leaflet questionnaire entitled
     “Your Say on the Future of the Chiltern Hills” which was circulated together with other
     supporting information to all County Council Members by the Cabinet Member for
     Community Services on 8 December 2000. The results of the consultation exercise
     were fed into the preparation of the Strategy. A full report is included within the
     Management Strategy (copy available from the Contact Officer).

     An initial consultation draft of the Management Plan was produced in 2001 and was
     reported to the Community Services Policy Advisory Group on 4 October of that year,
     resulting in a detailed response to the shadow Conservation Board. Subsequent drafts
     were further refined with input from County Council officers to as far as possible make
     the content of the Management Plan compatible with and furthering the County
     Council’s established service objectives and statutory requirements under the CROW

     In preparing the Management Plan the CROW Act also requires formal consultation
     with both the Countryside Agency and English Nature. Both organisations were
     consulted by the shadow Conservation Board, on the AONB’s constituent authorities’
     behalf, and both welcomed the document, making supportive and constructive
     comments. In addition there was widespread public consultation undertaken in 2001.

     Members with an Electoral Division within the Chilterns AONB have been contacted
     and there are no substantive comments against the recommendation and indeed any
     comments received support the stance taken.

G.   Communication issues

     The Management Strategy and arising initiatives are widely promoted and publicised
     across the Chilterns and surrounding areas. This is an on-going role of the Chilterns
     AONB Officer and team as guided by the shadow Conservation Board and supporting
     technical groups and panels. The Chilterns AONB has its own Internet Site and
     newsletter and bulletins are regularly produced. Individual projects and initiatives
     within the Action Plan also have their own communication and awareness raising

Background Papers

4 October 2001 Report to the Community Services, Policy Advising Group

The Chilterns AONB Management Strategy: The Framework for Action 2002-2007
Available via http://www.chilternsaonb.org/conservation/management_plan.html
Your questions and views

If you have any questions about the matters contained in this paper please get in touch with
the Contact Officer whose telephone number is given at the head of the paper.

If you have any views on this paper that you would like the Cabinet Member to consider, or if
you wish to object to the proposed decision, please inform the Democratic Services Team by
5.00pm on 9 July 2003. This can be done by telephone (to 01296 383603), Fax (to 01296
382538), or e-mail to cabinet@buckscc.gov.uk
                      CABINET MEMBER REPORT NO. CS08/03








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