The AONB Unit

The AONB Unit is the staff team, based in Monmouth, that carry out collaborative projects and partnership initiatives, working with a wide range of organisations and individuals in and around the Wye Valley AONB.

We operate as a cross-border co-ordinating body, engaging with local communities, landowners and other partners to advise on, develop and deliver both localised projects and AONB wide and landscape-scale initiatives.

The AONB Unit team are:

Andrew Blake  – AONB Manager
01600 713977   

Sharon Seymour – Finance & Administration Officer

* – Community Links Officer –

Nick Critchley – Development Officer
07904 017 982

Ruth Waycott – Information Officer
07904 436 719

Nickie Moore – Lower Wye Project Officer
07539 902 681

Ellie Baggett – Lower Wye Nature Recovery Officer
07399 632 635

Ben Nott – Wye Catchment Advisor (with Wye & Usk Foundation)
07539 902 680

* We were sorry to see Sarah Sawyer leave the AONB Unit in December 2021. We wish her well for the future. 

We report to the Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) and are employed on behalf of the AONB Partnership by the local authorities, Herefordshire Council, Monmouthshire County Council and Forest of Dean District Council. The Wye Catchment Advisor is employed by the Wye & Usk Foundation.

AONB Unit Core Functions

  • Developing, reviewing, preparing and publishing the AONB Management Plan
  • Advising upon, facilitating and coordinating the implementation of the Management Plan
  • Accessing resources for AONB management, conservation and enhancement activities
  • Developing an involvement by the community in the management of the AONB
  • Providing management and/or collaborative role to co-ordinate conservation and enhancement of the AONB at a local and strategic level
  • Problem-solving with the team acting as co-ordinator and facilitators
  • Advising Local Authorities and other partners on their activities within the AONB, to encourage them to attain the highest possible standards in the AONB (under s85 CRoW Act)
  • Working with and contributing to the NAAONB activities, sharing advice and best practice nationally and regionally.
  • Providing landscape-related planning advice to local planning authorities and government agencies.
  • Contributing and supporting activity between AONBs and protected landscapes to strengthen the status of the AONBs individually and collectively.
  • Monitoring and reporting on the progress of the Management Plan and Annual Business Plan to the AONB Partnership, DEFRA and Welsh Government, as requested.


How the AONB Unit is funded

The core budget for the AONB Unit is approximately £300,000 per annum. This consists of grant aid from DEFRA and Natural Resources Wales, on behalf of the Welsh Government, with match funding contributions from Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucestershire County Council, Herefordshire Council and Monmouthshire County Council (these organisations also constitute the Wye Valley AONB Steering Group). Herefordshire Council is the treasurer for the AONB Unit.

We also bid for additional funding for specific projects and initiatives from a variety of other sources. For example, in the past we have secured: Big Lottery Fund support for the mindSCAPE project, Visit Wales and the Arts Councils of England and Wales supported our Wye Valley River Festival, the Heritage Lottery Fund provided £1.9m towards the £3.1m Overlooking the Wye Landscape Partnership Scheme and the Welsh Government has provided funding for a number of green infrastructure and carbon reduction projects though their Sustainable Landscapes Sustainable Places (SLSP) programme.

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