Fantastic five: £795k awarded to latest landscape enhancement projects

Five new projects to enhance protected landscapes have been granted a total of nearly £800,000 in the third round of Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI) funding.

Five new projects to enhance protected landscapes have been granted a total of nearly £800,000 in the third round of Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI) funding.

Kent Downs AONB Partnership gained approval for two projects, with successful applications also submitted by the Cannock Chase AONB Partnership, the Dorset AONB Partnership and the North York Moors National Park Authority. 

The grants will support creative enhancements that lessen the visual impact of National Grid’s electricity transmission infrastructure in the designated landscapes.  Planned improvements range from restoring ancient woodland to managing historic boundaries and encouraging biodiversity through the creation of new habitats.

Energy industry regulator Ofgem approved the release of the funding, which is part of a £24 million provision set aside for LEI projects from the 30 eligible AONBs and National Parks containing existing high-voltage National Grid electricity transmission infrastructure.

Environmentalist and broadcaster Chris Baines, chair of the independent Stakeholder Advisory Group guiding National Grid on the initiative’s implementation, said: “We often think of landscapes as timeless, but preserving and enhancing our nation’s precious breathing spaces requires commitment and creativity in equal measure.

“It is extremely pleasing to see a wide range of new projects joining the other LEI-funded initiatives already transforming landscapes across England and Wales.  We will watch their progress with great enthusiasm and hope that they will inspire further applications to this important grant scheme.”

More than £2.3 million has been awarded through the LEI to date, with the latest five projects receiving confirmation of their grants in January 2019:

  • High Downs project (Kent Downs AONB) – creating a conservation network to enhance the landscape’s rolling mosaic of downs and heathland
  • North Downs Living Grid project (Kent Downs AONB) – enhancing the landscape’s character through extensive planting including five hectares of meadow and 2000m of hedgerow
  • Gentleshaw Common into the Future (Cannock Chase AONB) – restoring a colourful lowland heath landscape and improving visitor amenities including footpaths and a boardwalk
  • Reconnecting the Ridgeway (Dorset AONB) – strengthening the features of a historic landscape, including the creation of two new wildlife ponds
  • Arncliffe Wood and Scarth Wood Moor Restoration (North York Moors National Park) – regenerating nearly 30 hectares of ancient woodland in a well-used area of the National Park