Enhancing the Hills – Blackdown Hills AONB
The Blackdown Hills is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the border between Devon and Somerset, consisting of forest, farmland and steep valleys. Epitomising the English countryside, with hedgerows and copses, small farms with intricate field patterns, deep valleys and narrow, winding lanes, the AONB is popular for cycling, riding and walking.
With a grant from the Landscape Enhancement Initiative of almost £50,000, the Enhancing the Hills project focuses on a 6km corridor where National Grid’s electricity infrastructure cuts across a valley, ridge and plateau landscape. The project has aimed to reduce the visual impact of the overhead line through targeted conservation initiatives to restore and enhance hedgerows and hedgerow trees, small woodlands and orchards, and meadows close to the power lines.
To filter views between irregular medieval fields and the more regular field patterns on higher land, through an investment of over £25,000 the AONB team has so far installed 225m of brand new hedgerow, and restored 410 metres of old hedgerows. The new hedgerow strengthens the natural character of the landscape and crucially means there is now a clear physical boundary for the AONB in this location.
Additionally, over one hectare ofderelict and previously neglected historic orchard is being restored with new trees of native varieties. Scrub control, tree and ride maintenance are being carried out across 1.6 hectares of seminatural woodland on the landscape close to Honiton. To build on the work to date, five hectares of grassland is being enhanced and resown using a combination of seeds and green hay, which will benefit natural regeneration for the long term. An ongoing annual monitoring programme will ensure the success of the programme and measure progress.