Covers August, September and Part October.

Protecting the landscape
Our fight to scrap the third river crossing is now behind us. Our wonderful landscape is at the forefront of our local politician’s minds and the value of the valley is now acknowledged by all sides of the political divide. This gives us is an opportunity to really promote and enhance the landscape in the coming months.

The Government recently announced that it wants to extend by 30% the area of land with protected designation such as National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty etc. It is now an ideal time to push Natural England to designate the Great Ouse Valley as an AONB with all the better protection that this would offer. This idea was first proposed by an enthusiastic local group in around 2014 but still no decision has been made.

Communicating with you
Our website has been getting plenty of hits in the last year. However, our Facebook page has had a number of issues. We realise how important it is to use social media efficiently and to this end we are pleased to welcome Zoe Ryall to manage our use more efficiently. We now have regular features in the Hunts Post and other local publications.

Current topics
Our second Zoom Partner Member meeting took place in September. There were two main topics for discussion. The first was the project to improve the Ouse Valley Way long- distant footpath through Cambridgeshire.

 Ouse Valley Way

Photograph by Graham Campbell
A delightful section of the Ouse Valley Way with welcome resting place.

Volunteers from our Partner Members will be surveying their own stretch of the footpath. We need to identify where we need new posts and new way-marking signs. We will also be replacing the 20-year-old interpretation boards and hopefully putting in new ones along the route. We are working with the County Council on this project and are now delighted to be in discussion with Coral Walton, the graphic designer responsible for the original signage and boards. We now need the input of all our members to help provide ideas for the new boards.

The second item up for discussion at the last Partner Meeting was how the Trust should respond to the Government’s new White Paper on the reform of the planning process. This is a complicated issue. In order to get our members’ views we have created a short questionnaire available here to for you to complete, to ensure we get as many views as possible.

Funding application
The Trust has just made an application for a substantial grant from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund for the Great Ouse Valley Landscape and Biodiversity project. The project includes the Ouse Valley Way, the planting of new willow and black poplar trees along Cooks Stream, and the collection of data to help inform the work of the Trust in the future. If successful the Trust would appoint a Project Coordinator to manage the project. Our partner member, CPRE – the Countryside Charity, has kindly offered the joint use of their office in St Ives. This is a great example of how our Partner Members can work with us for mutual benefit.

Looking ahead
Many of our Partner Members attended the successful Zoom event organised by Natural Cambridgeshire that focussed on the Doubling Nature project. We hope to promote the recommended Parish Nature Recovery Toolkit in the future.

As we move into autumn, with all the limitations of the pandemic, it is comforting to live in an area where the benefits of the natural environment can still be enjoyed. We are all now much more aware of just how precious and valuable the landscape is to our local communities. Please keep in touch with us as we strive to make sure it remains so.

Graham Campbell, October 2020