Scilly’s AONB Wants To Focus On Tourism Economy

AONB postcardScilly’s AONB wants to work more closely with other wildlife and environmental organisations on the islands. And they believe their future role should be to help support the tourism economy, just as much as conservation work.

That’s the initial outcome of a working party, set up to review the future governance of the AONB and presented by manager Trevor Kirk at yesterday’s Advisory Group meeting.

That review was set up in March after their own board felt the organisation lacked effectiveness.

Trevor said the AONB should be making sure that people can enjoy Scilly’s environment and tourism was a priority.

Marian Bennett says visitors come to Scilly for the wonderful scenery and are very aware of environmental issues.

But she said without a good economy, the environment will suffer and they had to recognise that relationship.

Paul St Pierre from the RSPB said Scilly has enviable natural assets, which should be used effectively.

The local authority currently hosts the AONB, but it only has a legal duty to come up with a 5-year environment management plan and to monitor the progress of that.

In theory, said Chairman Johann Hicks, the Council could abolish the AONB and just produce the plan in-house or farm it out to consultants.

But Trevor felt that didn’t give the full picture, saying his group also provides other services, like the recent lighting plan and support for children’s services.

He said they also bring in £4 from the government for every £1 contributed by the Council.

But funding is likely to get squeezed in the coming years, particularly as Defra, who provide over 70% of their budget, could see big cuts in the government’s next austerity package.

Defra are unlikely to have money to fling around in the future, he said.

The Council picks up a further 18% of the bill, but they were asking every department to scrutinise their spending as well, says Trevor.

It means the AONB is going to have to be more creative in how it works with its partners, like the Islands Partnership, Wildlife Trust, Duchy and RSPB. There are suggestions that they could work more closely and even apply for grants together.

It could also see the organisation switching to be a charitable trust in the future, supported by donations and bequests in a similar way to the Wildlife Trust.

4 Responses to Scilly’s AONB Wants To Focus On Tourism Economy

  1. Mike Brown June 16, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Our former Chief Executive was chairman of our AONB’s so-called advisory committee from its inception. Today he still sits on the board of the National Association for AONBs.

    Yet he surely only got this position because he WAS our C/E. In fact though he was elected chairman of this national body just a fortnight before he was suspended from his Council post last October and less than three months before he actually departed the Authority here.

    During his 20 years as our Council’s boss we witnessed the Moorwell Alp grow beyond belief, the sewage system come close to collapse as well as the dramatic failure of the Route Partnership, a body which he also chaired and which let a £60M+ project (which would have given us two decent ferry terminals, Scillonian IV and helped sustain our struggling tourism industry) slip through its hands.

    In my view shouldn’t we be pressing the AONB to ensure that one of our councillors or a member of our council staff or at least someone that lives here takes over from Mr Hygate.

  2. Tony June 13, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    I agree Adam, the weighting on planning and conservation has to shift away from that and towards helping the islands to grow economically.

  3. veronika June 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    We don’t need them, maybe when we are all quids in again but at the mo they should be got rid of.

  4. Adam Morton, St.Martins June 13, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I have often wondered what the AONB actually does apart from putting their opinions on planning applications (genuine question)? I would like to think they might support the local economy by promoting renewable energy installations to subsidise our transport and offset it’s carbon emissions. I thought I heard there was a few million grants floating around to be dished out by the AONB? What better way to support the economy and the environment and get a return from an investment every year that can benefit the whole community (fairly)? It’s a natural resource better here than anywhere in Britain. The Orkney Islands are apparently over 100% renewable energy efficient and their tourism economy is apparently growing! Its all very well keeping the islands “free from the touch of man” but there not much point if no one can afford to see it! If the AONB offers some perceivable benefit outside its own members then its chances of charitable funding are massively improved.