Helping the Mendip Hills AONB

Burrington Combe: part of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Against the backdrop of the Glover Report, the Mendip Hills AONB is looking to the future. Jim Hardcastle reviewed the AONB’s current state in a presentation to the Mendip Society in Wells. Les Davies, President of the Mendip Society and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society introduced Jim Hardcastle and moderated a lively question and answer session at the end.

Les Davies (foreground) and Jim Hardcastle (background) take questions from the audience

Jim Hardcastle set out to expose current concerns and perceptions. He described the AONB as a veil over the top of the Mendip Hills. The weather is frequently wet and windy on top. The views are extraordinary whether your vantage point is looking up at the hills or out from the hills. The Mendip Hills AONB is an island surrounded by dense housing, with increasing pressure for more development close by.

The presentation covered a lot of ground. Ambitions are high; resources are low. The AONB team has just 5 staff and relies heavily on the welcome and wonderful support of around 100 volunteers. This blog will focus on the areas in which the Mendip Hills AONB needs public help.

8 Steps to Help Mendip AONB

  1. Cover outside lights to shine downwards – light pollution is a problem for birds and bats. There are concerns about light pollution from Bristol Airport expansion, Cheddar (disproportionate to size) and Wells.
  2. Know about your scheduled monuments and help to protect them
  3. Maintain geological features – clear Cotoneaster and prevent other invasive, garden escapes
  4. Keep soil in fields – avoid ploughing at the wrong time of year
  5. Plant native oaks and beech on northern slopes or in your own garden. Get involved in community planting schemes. There are free trees available (see link below). Oak supports 800 species and Beech 600 species. Go native!
  6. Grassland on south-facing slopes – help create nesting sites for birds, bats and habitats for bugs
  7. Dry stone walls – put a stone back. Help reduce the slow degradation.
  8. Welcome visitors and pass on news. Get more people to come. Be inclusive. Mendip Hills AONB promotes the area for active sports: cycling, mountain biking, caving, running, walking and rock climbing.

The audience mentioned concerns about the following additional issues:

  1. Agri-environment schemes – Long-term future and support is uncertain.
  2. Rights of Way Officer – there was confusion over whether to contact Mendip District Council or the County Council over issues with rights of way. Somerset County Council is currently the correct contact.


The Glover Report Landscapes Review: National Parks and AONBs

Woodland Trust: Free trees for schools and communities

Wild terrain on top of the Mendip Hills AONB
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