The AONB Unit

What does the Wye Valley AONB Unit do?

Our job is to make sure the things that make the Wye Valley AONB so special are cared for now and for future generations. We do this by working on projects and initiatives with landowners, local communities, visitors and public, private and voluntary organisations to conserve and enhance the area’s natural beauty. We also raise awareness of the value of the landscape and the natural and cultural heritage within the Wye Valley AONB. We encourage people to learn about the Wye Valley, to visit and enjoy it, helping to improve their health and wellbeing. We also work collaboratively with farmers, landowners, forest owners, rural businesses and local communities to promote sustainable forms of economic and social development.

We operate as a cross-border co-ordinating body, engaging with local communities, landowners and other partners to advise, develop and deliver both smaller localised projects and AONB-wide and landscape-scale initiatives to achieve the objectives within the AONB Management Plan. As well as leading on a number of projects we are also involved in other partnerships that relate to the Wye Valley, including:

Introducing the AONB Unit

The AONB Unit (the staff team) is based in the AONB office in Hadnock Road, Monmouth. The team currently comprises a number of full-time core posts and temporary project-funded posts:

  • Andrew Blake  – AONB Manager
  • Sharon Seymour – Finance & Administration Officer
  • Lucinda James – Community Links Officer
  • Nick Critchley – Development Officer
  • Ruth Waycott – Information Officer
  • Nickie Moore – Lower Wye Project Officer
  • Ellie Baggett – Lower Wye Nature Recovery Officer
  • Ben Nott – Wye Catchment Advisor (with Wye & Usk Foundation)

For Contact details please click here to go to the Contact Us page.

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.

The Wye Valley AONB Unit operates to safeguard children, young people and vulnerable adults involved as visitors and as participants in all of our activities. If you have any concerns please let us know, either in person or via email.

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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