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Stakeholder Event – 25 February  2015 from 15:00 to 17:00

The Somerset Local Nature Partnership Steering Group is hosting a briefing event for all stakeholders on Wednesday 25 February at the Great Bow Wharf in Langport. The purpose of the event is to provide an update on the development of the Partnership, progress with priority work areas and to discuss the key conservation issues currently facing the county. Presentations will be given by the SLNP working groups:

– Health and Wellbeing
– Economy and Tourism
– Iconic Landscapes and Wildlife

The programme for the event is:

14:30     Arrival, tea / coffee and networking opportunities
15:00     Current status of the Somerset Local Nature Partnership
15:15     Working group presentations and discussion
16:30     Discussion on critical conservation issues in Somerset
17:00     Close

If you have registered on this website you will have received an invitation. If not please use the Contact page to book a place.

For a map and directions please click on the Great Bow Wharf link

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Older News items

Somerset Local Nature Partnership – November 2014 update
Find out what progress has been made with the Somerset Local Nature Partnership by clicking on the link below.

Somerset Local Nature Partnership – November 2014 update

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New Environmental Land Management Scheme

Natural England has released the draft targeting statements for the New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS) for each National Character Area (NCA) in England. NELMS is now known as Countryside Stewardship. The NCA target statements that fall wholly or partially within Somerset are attached (Exmoor not included as responses for this NCA are being coordinated by NE in Devon).

133 Blackmoor Vale and Vale of Wardour

140 Yeovil scarplands

141 Mendip Hills

142 Somerset Levels and Moors

143 Mid Somerset Hills

144 Quantock Hills

146 Vale of Taunton and Quantock Fringes

Blackdown Hills

Exmoor

If you wish to provide feedback please complete the stakeholder comment form BEFORE 23 NOVEMBER and forward directly to Roger Griffin at Natural England.

Some additional context to the process and feedback from the July validation process, both nationally and specifically relating to the Somerset, Avon, Wiltshire area, is also included here: NELMS Local Validation Issues paper final. If you have queries on the process, forms or targeting statements please direct them to Roger.

These additional documents may be of use.

NELMS targeting statements for the SAW Area Team

NELMS Targeting Framework October 2014 final

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October 2014 – Somerset Local Nature Partnership Structure and Operational Arrangements announced

Somerset Local Nature Partnership has set up four working groups to help them deliver the aims set out in the Prospectus. To find out more about the Working Groups, the Steering Group and Stakeholder Forum please click on the link below.

Somerset Local Nature Partnership_Oct_14_organisation

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August 2014 – England Local Nature Partnerships express concerns regarding the New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS)

Somerset Local Nature Partnership, along with other LNPs in England, were invited to play an active role in the NELMS validation and targeting exercise. To read their full response click on the link below:

Aug 2014 NELMS – England LNP response

 

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May 2014 – Somerset Environmental Records Centre

SERC has been refreshed and revamped following a period of consultation. A new Executive Group has been formed from the partnership representing data users, specialist groups and employees, and a full time Manager, Paula Hewitson, has been recruited to take the Records Centre forward.

Paula has been a conservation volunteer for over twenty years. She is a keen photographer who enjoys travelling and is a member of the RHS and Somerset Wildlife Trust. She has a Government background, with particular knowledge in data management, finance and trainee mentoring schemes.

Dr Cathy Horsley has also joined SERC as their new Ecologist, Cathy has a PhD in the effect of Himalayan balsam on native plant pollination, and a Masters of Research in Biodiversity and Conservation. She has recently joined the Committee of the Somerset Invertebrate Group. She has a passion for insects and is a Member of Butterfly Conservation, British Entomological and Natural History Society, and the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society.

Cathy and Paula join the existing SERC team of Sue Simpson and Tony Price.

SERC is moving to Taunton at the end of June. The Somerset Wildlife Trust has purchased new Headquarters at 34 Wellington Road, Taunton TA1 5AW and SERC will be moving into the Annex of the property.

SERC will be holding a Partnership Day on Friday 10October 2014 for all specialist groups, volunteers, and main data users. More details will be published in the Summer.

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January 2014 – Somerset Local Nature Partnership concerned about reduction in financial support to Somerset AONBs

This letter was recently sent to Somerset County Council leaders

PROPOSED REDUCTION IN CONTRIBUTION TO THE SOMERSET AONB PARTNERSHIPS

I am writing on behalf of the Somerset Local Nature Partnership about the proposed reduction in funding to the AONB Partnerships in Somerset.  We were surprised and frustrated to learn of the proposed 89 per cent reduction in the grant to the four Somerset AONBs in 2015/16.

We recognize that Somerset County Council is facing serious financial challenges as a result of the reduction in central government funding but in setting your budget we all need to consider how we can best spend limited resources.  The local authority funding for AONBs is crucial to draw down the Defra funding which contributes at least £3 for every £1 put in by the local authorities’ partners.  The cuts proposed by Somerset County Council will jeopardize core funding for the AONB teams in Somerset and the work it carries out for the landscape and communities of the Mendips, Quantocks and Blackdown Hills.  When the overall cuts to your budget are 6 per cent, why is it necessary to cut the AONBs’ budget by nearly 90 per cent?

The Memorandum of Agreement signed by the County and DEFRA sets out a vision and commitment to protect the special landscape of the AONBs and support the economic and social needs of local communities.  Your proposal to ‘remove management costs for AONBs’ flies in the face of this commitment and the Localism Act’s duty to co-operate.

The AONB Partnerships are acknowledged for delivering value for money, but cannot do this unless local authority partners make a reasonable contribution to funding the essential work that delivers the AONBs’ statutory purpose.

One recent example of the catalytic work our AONBs undertake is clearly demonstrated by the Discovering Blackdowns Project; In January 2013 The Mendip Hills AONB was awarded a grant of £205,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards a programme of training, activities and events to encourage sustainable access and management of the Burrington Commons. The project involves working closely with all the recreational user groups, schools and colleges, volunteers, interest groups and the landowner to deliver a programme of interpretation, signing, and practical activities and events. The aim is to help raise awareness of the importance of the value of the commons for wildlife and the archaeological heritage and actively seek involvement in the sustainable management of the area by all who use it.

One of the greatest assets we have in the Somerset is the high quality of our environment; it not only supports an important tourist industry but also encourages businesses and individuals to relocate to Somerset.  The Mendips, Quantocks and Blackdowns are jewels in Somerset’s crown and if we are to continue to benefit from this high quality landscape we must invest in it.

For these reasons the Somerset Local Nature Partnership asks you to reconsider this proposal and seek a more equitable solution to meeting your responsibilities for AONB funding and we would be pleased to discuss this further with you to explore potential solutions.

Yours sincerely

Simon Nash

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Summer 2013 – Somerset Local Nature Partnership Update

During the last few months the LNP interim board and others have been working on your behalf, the wider Partnership to develop the Somerset LNP and interact with a wide range of partners and business leaders.  As ever your support is appreciated at a time when resources are very thinly stretched.

Governance

The Local Nature Partnership is currently lead by a small, interim board. The members of the interim board are shown on the Partners page.  The role of the board (all volunteers) is to lead the direction and development of the LNP, to communicate and be important advocates for the key messages and work of the LNP.

It is the intention of the interim board to establish a permanent (but flexible) governance structure in the autumn comprising a strategic leadership board, a working steering group and wider partnership forum.

on work so far includes:

Publishing the Somerset Local Nature Partnership Prospectus

With support from a number of interim board member organisations the LNP has produced a  prospectus which sets out our current vision for Somerset with the aim of enlisting  the support of businesses, developers and planners to understand the vital importance of the County’s natural places and encourage them to work with us to preserve and enhance them. It is our intention to update this document on a needs basis.

Mapping the ecological network

With support from Somerset County Council, Michele Bowe from Somerset Wildlife Trust along with Larry Burrows of  SCC is preparing a series of strategic maps which identify the ecological network for the County, comprising ‘existing natural assets’ together with priority ‘ecological investment areas’. This work will assist planning authorities to identify ecological networks in their local plans.