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Downland Management

Eastbourne Borough Council owns 4000 acres of downland ('The Eastbourne Downland'), 1,200 of which is 'Open Downland' - free, open access land for the public to enjoy - with the remainder used for farming with public access on rights of way only. The Council manages this land in accordance with its own Downland Management Plan and within the guidelines of several other agencies.

Eastbourne's Downland Ranger

The Council's responsibility regarding the Open Downland is to ensure that the public has access to the land and information about it at the same time as protecting the natural environment. The Council's responsibility towards its three tenant farms - Black Robin Farm, Chalk Farm and Bullock Down Farm - is to fulfil its obligations as landlord, such as collecting rent and carrying out repairs.

The practical management of the land is carried out by the Council's Downland Ranger Service and by various contractors who are supervised by the Ranger Service. The Council also has an Arboriculturist Officer to supervise the management of the 250 acres of deciduous woodland mostly on the Eastbourne Downland eastern escarpment.

The management of the Eastbourne Downland takes place in consultation with several other agencies. These are:

  • The Countryside Agency  - responsible for conserving and enhancing the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside in England and promoting its enjoyment by the public. The Countryside Agency designates National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB's) and Heritage Coasts. The South Downs are designated an AONB and the Eastbourne Downland south of the A259 is Heritage Coast. This land is therefore managed in accordance with the Countryside Agency's conservation guidelines.
  • English Nature  - responsible for sustaining and enriching the wildlife and natural features of England. English Nature designates National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI's). There are several SSSI's on the Eastbourne Downland which are managed in consultation with English Nature.
  • The Sussex Downs Conservation Board - consists of representatives from all the authorities in Sussex involved with the management of the South Downs. Members meet to consult with each other on a number of shared issues and concerns, such as planning applications for the downland and long term management plans.
  • Ministry for Agriculture Fisheries & Food  - central government ministry responsible for farming policy and also for the designation of Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA's). The South Downs are designated an ESA. Under the ESA Scheme the farmers and landowners within an ESA can apply for grants from MAFF in return for adopting measures to protect the area.
  • Department for Environment, Transport & the Regions  - central government department with overall responsibility for environmental issues and policy.

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