Richard Benyon MP, Minister for the Natural Environment & Fisheries, visited Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty last week (Thursday 3 May) to find out more about how the area is conserved and managed.
Richard Benyon MP was invited to visit the area by Stafford’s MP, Jeremy Lefroy. Jeremy Lefroy MP explains: “I’ve always been incredibly impressed by the way Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is conserved and managed for our generation and future generations to enjoy. I also know that some of the techniques used on the Chase are innovative and unique. This is why I was really keen to invite Richard Benyon MP to see the area and hear about the way it is managed, as well as to meet the team and our army of outstanding volunteers who help us to preserve our beautiful countryside.”
Cllr Frances Beatty MBE, Chairman of the Cannock Chase AONB, explained: “We were delighted to welcome both Richard Benyon and Jeremy Lefroy and to take them on a ‘Chase Tour’. Our primary aim was to show off the ways in which all the many interested parties involved in managing Cannock Chase work tirelessly together to handle the very delicate balance between this nationally important landscape, and the demands of a population who may want to visit and enjoy it, live in it, or set up businesses in it. We have quite simply to ensure that people ‘don’t love it to death’.”
Richard Benyon MP, Minister for the Natural Environment & Fisheries, commented: “I really enjoyed my visit to Cannock Chase. I particularly enjoyed meeting all the volunteers who play such a vital role in protecting the wonderful landscape. I was bowled over by the passion of the volunteers and the amount of time they invest in delivering core projects, such as the fixed-point photography that monitors landscape over time and the new AONB walking route. I’ve learned so much and have lots of ideas and concepts to take back with me. I see the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as a beacon of best practice in terms of recruiting, supporting and maintaining a life-blood of volunteering. Congratulations to the team and thank you to everyone who gives their time so generously.”
During the day, Richard Benyon MP and Jeremy Lefroy MP met Glynis Ward MBE, who was awarded a New Year’s honour earlier this year for her voluntary services to the Cannock Chase community.
Glynis Ward MBE commented: “I was delighted to meet both Richard and Jeremy and was happy to explain the important contribution volunteers make to an area like Cannock Chase. I explained that without volunteers, our stunning landscapes would be in far greater jeopardy and that, thanks to the efforts of thousands of people across the country who work alongside organisations like Cannock Chase AONB, our countryside is being protected for everyone to enjoy.”
Richard Benyon MP and Jeremy Lefroy MP also met three companies who are all operating and thriving within the AONB.
Cllr Frances Beatty MBE, concluded “We talked about how the conservation of this unique countryside carries a monetary cost. We explained the challenges and opportunities facing enterprises operating on the Chase and discussed the doors that can be opened to generating income for conservation through the environmental economy. The Minister was impressed by Go Ape’s treetop adventure enterprise and by the Forestry Commission’s Birches Valley. Richard and Jeremy also met volunteers from Veolia, specialists in environmental services, who help to provide visitor information at Milford Common, and with Cemex, a quarrying company, who are hugely supportive of the AONB’s work.”