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County council signs off plan to make countryside sites self-sufficient in six years

Surrey County Council today signed off a plan to make countryside sites generate enough money to be self-sufficient within six years.

The Cabinet approved a proposal to work with Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) to explore commercial opportunities to cover the cost of managing the county’s countryside by 2021 and pay for improved facilities. The proposals will now be considered at a meeting of SWT’s trustees next month.

Under the plans the two organisations will look at areas such as filming, catering and sponsorship at places like Newlands Corner, Ockham and Norbury Park.

Currently the county council contributes more than £750,000 a year to SWT, which manages countryside throughout Surrey on its behalf. That is £200,000 less than two years ago.

Mike Goodman, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, said: “This is about improving visitor facilities while also making savings for local residents. Our aim is to generate enough money by 2021 to fund our contribution to the trust so everyone can enjoy Surrey’s countryside but the cost is eventually taken off the local taxpayer.

“Initiatives like this are essential to manage the countryside we all enjoy at a time when rising demand for school places and adult social care are also putting a heavy strain on our budgets.”

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