Countryside

Frequently Asked Questions for this Service

Question: How can I find out who owns a bit of land?

Answer: The Council does not hold information on land ownership. You can find the owner of any registered piece of land by contacting HM Land Registry via the website below (enquiries can be made online) or by ringing them on 023 9276 8888. - Related Link

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Question: I'd like to volunteer to do some work in the countryside. How do I get involved?

Answer: The work of the Countryside Rangers is supported by a large and loyal band of volunteers, who willingly give their time throughout the year to conserve and enhance their local environment. It's also a good way to meet people, learn new skills and keep fit. There are opportunities for volunteers in most parts of the Island and at most times of year. To find out more contact the Countryside Section for an informal discussion, or look at our schedule of events for an upcoming volunteer day, and just turn up! - Related Link

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Question: Is there any money, or any grants available to do conservation works, plant trees or hedges, or clear ponds on my land?

Answer: The council has no general grants but some specific grants may be available from other bodies.

If your land is within the AONB you should contact the AONB Partnership on 823855 http://www.wightaonb.org.uk/

If you wish to plant trees on the Island, or manage existing woodland, contact the Forestry Commission on 02392 200596. There may be grants available for areas bigger than 1/4 hectare. You can find more information about woodland grants at their website http://www.forestry.gov.uk .

If you are a farmer or use your land primarily for agriculture, you should contact the Defra Helpline by telephone on 08459 33 55 77 or by email at helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk - Related Link

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Question: How can I find out about designated and protected sites?

Answer: There are a range of different designations and protected sites across the Isle of Wight.

The Island has around 40 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) notified for their national biological and/or geological interest. These cover some 11% of the Island’s land area.

You can view a range of map-based information about protected areas across the UK, including the Isle of Wight, at http://magic.defra.gov.uk/

If you need more detailed information you should contact the IW Local Records Centre. - Related Link

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Question: How can I book an educational visit to Fort Victoria or another countryside site?

Answer: Ranger tours and activities are available for schools and other groups throughout the year. Fort Victoria is the most popular location but there are other sites across the Island that rangers use for education activities.

Tours can include an indoor handling session, beach walks, woodland trail, River Yar trail and much more. Please note that dates in June and July particularly are very popular and will need to be booked well in advance.

The cost for a 2 hour ranger led tour for 2014 is £3.20 per pupil for Island schools and £3.70 per pupil for mainland schools. Teachers and support staff are free.

Tailor made talks and tours are available on request.

If you’d like to enquire or make a booking, please contact the Fort Manager by phoning 01983 760860 or by e-mailing Fort.Victoria@iow.gov.uk

The Fort Victoria Aquarium, Maritime Heritage Exhibition and Planetarium are privately run attractions, and you should contact them directly to arrange an organised visit; although it is very common to combine one or more of these attractions with a ranger tour, and we can advise you on how to do this. - Related Link

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Question: How can I book a barbeque or event at Fort Victoria?

Answer: The Council has installed three purpose-made barbeques for family or small group use at Fort Victoria. Although groups of 12 people or fewer may turn up and use the barbeques without booking if they are free, at peak times they are in great demand and so to reserve a place booking in advance is strongly recommended. For a group of between 11 and 60 people there is a fee to pay - please enquire to find the current charge. For groups of more than 60 people booking is essential: please contact us.

If on-site catering is required, enquiries can be made of Verdi's Cafe on 01983 761777. No other caterer is permitted to use the site without prior consent of the Council.

The Park and facilities can be hired for private events - for all enquiries please contact the Countryside Section.

To book a BBQ or for further information please contact the Fort Manager on Tel 760860 or by e-mailing Fort.Victoria@iow.gov.uk - Related Link

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Question: What are the opening times for Fort Victoria Country Park and the attractions?

Answer: Access to the Fort, its 20 hectares of woodland and beach is open 24 hours a day 365 days of the year. There is free parking and public toilets.

The attractions are normally open on most days Easter-October. Each attraction is privately run and has its own opening times. Visit the website or contact individual attractions to check the times:
Aquarium 01983 760283
Maritime Heritage Museum 01983 760283
Planetarium 01983 761555
Verdi's Cafe 01983 761777
Model Railway 01983 761553 - Related Link

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Question: What can I do about invasive species of plant?

Answer: There are a number of plant species, many associated with ponds and streams, which can cause problems if they escape into the wild. Be very careful not to release domestic plant fragments into wild waters such as rivers or ponds. If you are having problems with invasive species on the Isle of Wight you can consult the Plant Positive group.

This is a partnership combining Newport Rivers, the Environment Agency, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, The National Trust, RSPB and other Island organisations, created to target species such as Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and creeping water primrose. These are non-native plants that have the ability to spread rapidly and displace a more natural flora leaving behind habitats and wildlife that are significantly poorer as a result. - Related Link

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Question: Where can I find out about organised countryside walks and events on the Island?

Answer: The Wildlife Trust compile a list of guided walks throughout the year that are run by organisations and individuals and cover a wide range of interests.
The Wildlife Trust produce a free leaflet every year called 'Wight Summer'. The leaflet is usually available from libraries or downloaded from the internet.
Alternatively, requests for copies can be made direct through the Wildlife Trust by telephoning 760016.

Health Walks are also organised by the Isle of Wight Council and more information is available via the following link - Related Link

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Question: Who do I report a pollution incident to?

Answer: Anything involving flooding, likely pollution of a watercourse; abstraction of water, i.e. taking it out of a river or from underground; blocking up or obstruction of watercourses; other pollution issues including air pollution and illegal dumping should be reported to The Environment Agency. Ring their hotline on 0800 807060. - Related Link

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Question: I've seen an adder, what should I do?

Answer: All snakes are protected, and adders are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from being killed, injured or sold. So it's best not to disturb or hurt any snakes you see. Adders are not aggressive snakes, and will only attack if harassed or threatened. Although an adder’s venom poses little danger to a healthy adult human, the bite can be painful and requires urgent medical attention. The same applies to most dogs - if you think your dog has been bitten, get him to the vet as soon as you can.

To avoid snakes, stick to paths and don't go into longer vegetation. If you make a lot of noise as you approach they will soon flee as they are very sensitive to ground vibrations.

For very good advice on reptiles in the garden - both encouraging them and discouraging them - see this comprehensive government leaflet (see link) - Related Link

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Question: Who runs Gift to Nature?

Answer: Gift to Nature is a project of the Island 2000 Trust. Island 2000 Trust is an Isle of Wight charity established in 1998.
The Island 2000 Objects are:
• to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of the Isle of Wight;

• to promote for the benefit of the public rural regeneration on the Isle of Wight by any or all of the following means:
a) the advancement of education, training and retraining for the rural workforce
b) the provision of technical advice and assistance to promote employment opportunities in the countryside
• to advance public education in environmental matters and of the ways of better conserving, protecting and improving the environment.


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Question: What is Gift to Nature?

Answer: Gift to Nature is a project of Island 2000 Trust which started in 2002. With a theme of “Loving our Local Countryside” the aim of Gift to Nature is for everyone to enjoy the natural environment by creating, enhancing and providing access to beautiful and easy-to-access open spaces and natural places.

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Question: Why has Island 2000 agreed to operate the Council’s Countryside Service?

Answer: We believe the Council’s Countryside sites are important for everyone on the Island. They have had a long period of reduced support and investment, and as a result of the ongoing public sector cuts were under threat.
There is a strong synergy between Gift to Nature and IW Council’s Countryside sites. By operating the sites as Gift to Nature we intend to seek additional investment and we hope to be able to access additional funding opportunities.


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Question: How was Island 2000 selected to manage the Council’s sites?

Answer: We were appointed as the preferred bidder following an open prospectus process in early 2014. We have been working with IW Council since then to finalise details.

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Question: How will Island 2000 sustain the sites in the future without public funding?

Answer: This is going to be a real challenge but one which we believe to be worth attempting. At present it costs about £100,000 every year to operate the sites. We will need to raise money through a number of sources e.g. sponsorship, public donations, grants and commercial activity. We are keen to work with everyone to make this a success.

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Question: Will I still be able to use the sites?

Answer: Yes, we are committed to keeping free and open public access right across the sites. We want to see the sites used and enjoyed more.

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Question: Does Island 2000 know how to successfully manage the sites?

Answer: Yes we manage a number of sites within the current Gift to Nature portfolio, and we own two – Pan Mill Meadows in Newport and Castle Copse in East Cowes. Two members of the IW Council Countryside staff will transfer to Island 2000 Trust to continue their work.

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Question: Is Island 2000 Trust different from the National Trust or Wildlife Trust?

Answer: There are some differences and some similarities too. Our sites are mostly local sites valued greatly by the people who live nearby. We do have several highly protected sites with rare wildlife, but we also have many sites which are more important as open space for people to enjoy. All sites are managed for the benefit of nature and our local Isle of Wight community. Island 2000 focuses solely on local sites and all money raised is spent locally.

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Question: Where is Gift to Nature based?

Answer: We will operate from Shide Meadows Centre in Newport, alongside our Pan Mill Meadows site and the Red Squirrel (Newport to Sandown) cycle path.

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Question: If I see a problem on a Gift to Nature site who do I contact?

Answer: Please call 01983 296244. If it is an emergency and require appropriate response, please call the Emergency Services first

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Question: Will the management of the sites change now the Council is no longer managing them?

Answer: We will be working hard to improve and enhance the countryside and wildlife across all of our sites. At first there will be little change but gradually you will notice improvements and new features right across the Gift to Nature sites over the next few years.

We will treat each site differently and work out what is best for that place, the wildlife that lives there and most importantly, the people who use it and live around it. Longer term we hope to be able to extend the number of sites and activities supported by Gift to Nature.


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Question: Are all the council's countryside sites being transferred to Gift to Nature?

Answer: Not all. The majority of sites are being transferred, but some sites such as Fort Victoria Country Park, are being kept within the council at this time. A Partnership Agreement has been set up with the Council and we will be regularly reviewing the management of all the sites.

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Question: Is the council selling or giving any land to the Island 2000 Trust?

Answer: No, the council still owns the sites as it has in the past; but they will be managed by Gift to Nature.

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Question: What sites are included?

Answer: Afton Marsh Local Nature Reserve
Batts Copse and Sibden Hill
Binstead Wood
Blackgang Viewpoint
Brading Down Local Nature Reserve
Dodnor Creek and Dickson Copse Local Nature Reserve
Golden Hill Country Park
Haylands Wood
Medina Riverside Park
Merstone Station
Millennium Wood, Seaclose
Nansen Hill
Pan Country Park
Rew Down Local Nature Reserve
Sandown Levels
Swanmore Meadows
The Landslip, Bonchurch


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Question: What will happen to existing staff?

Answer: Two members of staff, Nick Webb and Matthew Chatfield will transfer on 1 February 2016 across to Island 2000; Bob Edney will remain with IW Council to manage the remaining sites that are not being transferred.

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Question: Where can I find out about Gift to Nature sites?

Answer: Our website is currently being revamped and will soon feature all the new sites. Our current website can be viewed at www.gifttonature.org.uk - Related Link

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Question: How can I help?

Answer: We need your help, and we’d like to hear from you if you want to support us in any way. Here are some examples:
- donate money as a one-off or as a regular payment go to www.gifttonature.org.uk web page
- Volunteer your time to help look after a site close to you – contact us using the details at the end of this document
- be our eyes and ears to help us keep the sites safe and in good order
- encourage your Parish/Town Council to support us
- arrange an event to support Gift to Nature
- sponsor a Gift to Nature site
- Sign up to our monthly email newsletter via the Gift to Nature website - Related Link

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Question: How do I find out more about the work of Island 2000 Trust and Gift to Nature?

Answer: We can be contacted in a number of ways:
By phone - call 01983 296244
By post – Island 2000 Trust, Shide Meadows Centre, Shide, Newport PO30 1HR
By email: info@gifttonature.org.uk
Via Website gifttonature.co.uk or naturalenterprise.co.uk
- Related Link

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