Major grant secured to enhance Cheltenham’s special landscapes
Published on 6th September 2021
Almost £175k awarded by National Grid Landscape Enhancement Initiative to develop and enhance Leckhampton Hill, Charlton Kings Common and Ravensgate Common.
A three year landscape and nature restoration project has started this year on Leckhampton Hill, Charlton Kings Common, and Ravensgate Common – thanks to a major grant of £174,776 from National Grid’s Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI). This exciting project will encourage wildflower growth, provide richer food sources for wildlife, reveal views not seen since the 1960s, and restore the original dry stone wall along the boundary next to the Cotswold Way, off Hartley Lane.
The funding from the National Grid LEI scheme is designed to reduce the possible visual adverse impact that major power lines may have on the landscape through which they pass. The independent conservation body for Cotswolds areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) Cotswolds National Landscape, have submitted bids to the National Grid on behalf of project applicants, and this project’s funding was successfully secured through partnership working between Charlton Kings Parish Council, Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (FOLK) and Cheltenham Borough Council.
Benefits of the project are plentiful, for both nature and people: it will restore beautiful and inspiring views; encourage an increase in butterflies and other insects; reduce the likelihood and severity of accidental fires that can destroy wildlife such as the Roman Snail; rotational cutting will open up vistas and enhance other wildlife interest; selective felling of trees will encourage native species and open up the views from parts of the footpaths; selective tree planting will restore native, disease-free, tree species; selective retention of deadwood/standing dead trees will encourage bats to roost and rare insects to breed.
This project demonstrates the positive effects of partnership working between parish councils, borough councils, community groups and environmental or conservation organisations. The resulting works from this project will benefit nature and people well into the future.
Cllr Victoria Atherstone, member for culture, wellbeing and business, said: ‘’We’re thrilled to have received this funding from National Grid LEI. The efforts from all parties is an example of partnership working at its best. The investment will strengthen the character of the surrounding landscape, enhance the wildlife and benefit many in our communities who use the land.’’
Chair of Charlton Kings Parish Council, Rob Williams, said: “We are hugely grateful to National Grid for giving us the opportunity to restore the most treasured landscapes and biodiversity hotspots in our parish. We will make the best use of every pound we have been given, to improve our small part of this nationally important landscape and make it a better place for our residents to experience the joys of being out in the countryside.”
John Harvey, Chair of Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (FOLK), continued: “FOLK has worked with the borough council for 20 years to manage the nationally important Limestone grassland that provides both an impressive backdrop to Cheltenham and an area that is rich in wildlife and in opportunities for enjoying the countryside. The generosity of National Grid offers a one-off step-change in our joint ability to deliver the vital works that will improve the valuable landscape, wildlife and recreational features of the site and guarantee their enjoyment and use into the future.”
Environmentalist and broadcaster Chris Baines, who chairs the independent Stakeholder Advisory Group for National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision project which includes the LEI, said: “Through the Landscape Enhancement Initiative National Grid is making a positive contribution towards preserving and enhancing the natural beauty, cultural heritage, biodiversity as well as accessibility within England and Wales’s most precious landscapes.
“We’re delighted to be working with such a broad range of stakeholders to provide funding for this exciting project in the Cotswolds AONB and I look forward to watching their progress as they work to help to make this historic and dramatically beautiful areas even more enjoyable to visit.”
Photo single use only - credit Robert Williams.
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Notes to editors:
- Keep up to date with the project at Charlton Kings Parish Council’s dedicated website page www.charltonkingsparishcouncil.gov.uk/charlton-kings-environment.html
- Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (FOLK) is a volunteer organisation formed in 2000. It aims to represent all the users and lovers of Leckhampton Hill, Daisy Bank Fields, and Charlton Kings Common, whether their interest is ecological, historical or recreational. FOLK hold regular work parties on the Hill and Common. Find out more at www.leckhamptonhill.org.uk/about-us/
- The Landscape Enhancement Initiative is part of National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project which makes use of a provision from the regulator, Ofgem, to reduce the landscape and visual impact of existing high-voltage electricity infrastructure in English and Welsh AONBs and National Parks.
- The areas included in this project fall within the specified areas of the Cotswolds National Landscape eligible for this National Grid LEI funding.
- The Cotswolds National Landscape was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape. Find out more at www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk