£205k cash boost to help Mendip Hills conservation site
A fascinating local conservation site has won a major funding boost from the Lottery Fund.
The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership has received a grant of £205,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its Discovering Black Down project.
The project will safeguard the future of the Black Down and Burrington Commons by encouraging greater understanding of its heritage landscapes, wildlife and archaeology.
The grant, part of a funding package totalling £282,800, will employ a full-time project officer for three years to deliver the project working with community groups and partner organisations.
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The project will engage local communities and visitors to the site through a range of new interpretation, learning and participation activities. It will also develop new volunteering and training opportunities for a wider range of people to gain skills and get involved in protecting the Commons for the future.
Alongside these works the AONB aims to carry out work to restore and repair badly eroded paths, as well as protecting the area’s wildlife habitats and archaeology.
Large areas of Black Down are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its valuable wildlife habitats and has three scheduled monuments. dating from the late Stone Age and Bronze Age through to the Second World War.
The project has been developed by the AONB Partnership through the Black Down Advisory Group (BDAG) consisting of the landowner, Burrington Conservators, Mendip Hills AONB Unit and central and local government bodies who liaised with local communities and users of the site at all stages and Natural England have contributed partnership funding to the project.
The legacy of Discovering Black Down will be to create a sustainable structure that will ensure local community and user group volunteers continue to play an active role in the care and conservation of this area’s heritage.
The project development officer responsible, Andy Mallender said the team were thrilled by the award.
Plans for the money include setting up a new scheme to teach the young unemployed about countryside matters and raising the profile of the little explored Iron Age fort.
“It will allow us to really put Black Down on the map,” said Andy. “We will be bringing it alive and really expanding our training and educational work.”
Councillor Dawn Hill, chairman of the AONB Partnership said: “Black Down is one of the most fascinating sites in the Mendip Hills AONB and with this funding we can bring the special stories of the site to life and encourage people to take an active role in caring for this special place.
Richard Bellamy, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “We at the Heritage Lottery Fund are proud to be supporting a project which will stimulate people’s interest in nature.
“Through the Discovering Black Down project, the local community will have the chance to learn new skills, discover new passions and play their part as custodians of our wonderful natural heritage.”