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Bid to make Mendip Hills conservation area bigger

By Somerset Standard  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

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It could take half-a-dozen years or longer but one man wants to make the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) bigger.

The vision of pushing the 40-year-old borders eastwards towards Frome and in other directions may seem at odds with his occupation, but explosives expert Nigel Taylor has huge respect for the hills where he spends most of his time, be it professionally in its quarries, above ground rambling or beneath it in its caves.

Nothing is official and the expansion idea is merely that, but the Mendip District Council member believes enlarging the 198sq km beauty spot to better fit its geographical hilly features that begin in Brean Down and ends in Frome will solve a lot of development problems and bolster the area's economy.

He said: "I brought the idea to the council 14 months ago and it's in the process of being formulated as a potential policy.

"If I can get it in before full council in the next few months and if it is approved I will take it to other district councils. I think this would be good for the economy and communities."

Mr Taylor sees the AONB as a way to join up a lot of beauty spots that currently sit outside the protective borders of the site.

One direction to push in would be east along the ridge line to Frome, taking in places like Maesbury, Croscombe, Mells, Vobster, and so on.

The councillor, who is also a member of the AONB Partnership, among other groups, has enlisted support from the Mendip Society and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. But perhaps the biggest challenge will lie in persuading Defra.

"It's going to be good for villages, businesses, bed-and-breakfasts and people getting more time off and doing recreational visits," said Mr Taylor.

"A larger AONB will bring more in to Mendips and I see the council having a part in that."

Should the AONB be made bigger? Write to editor@somersetstandard.co.uk.

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