Board members

The Board has 27 members, all of whom are independent and do not represent any other organisation.

This comprises 13 local authority appointed members, six Parish Council elected members and eight Secretary of State appointed members. All Board members will have expressed an interest in joining the CCB Board.

  • Members appointed by the Secretary of State must go through a formal application and selection process and are appointed for a period of three years, which can be extended twice by another three years, nine years maximum.
  • Parish Council members are elected by the parish councils in their appropriate county within the Chilterns AONB: two Buckinghamshire, two Oxfordshire, one Hertfordshire and one Bedfordshire parish councillors. They can remain Board members as long as they are parish council members and are willing to remain Board members.
  • Local Authorities in the Chilterns AONB appoint their members usually in May some do it annually, some appoint them for years: five for Buckinghamshire Council, and one each for Oxfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Central Bedford Council, Luton Borough Council, Dacorum Borough Council, North Hertfordshire District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council and Three Rivers District Council.

The CCB and CEO have no formal influence over who is appointed or elected to the Board.

The CEO is responsible to the Board members of the CCB.

Meet the Board

Appointed by: Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Colin is a Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has extensive senior management and Board experience in leading UK and international infrastructure organisations. Prior to retirement, Colin held various senior managerial and director positions at Swedish international project development and construction group, Skanska. He has acted in various secondment and advisory roles with the Government. He was a member of the Government’s Green Construction Board and assisted with the development of the joint Government / industry strategy for construction – Construction 2025.

He was appointed to the Board by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2016. He has a great love for hill walking and the Chilterns has been his training ground for overseas treks in the Himalayas, the Andes and most recently Patagonia.

Colin became Chair of the Chilterns Conservation Board in June 2023.

Register of Interests

Appointed by: Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

John Nicholls is an ex Director of Planning, was Director of Regeneration and Rural Affairs for the East Midlands Development Agency and Chief Executive of three Urban Regeneration Companies until he retired in 2009. He has been a trustee of various charities including the National Forest Charitable Trust and is currently on the board of Arthritis Care. John is a sculptor in stone and is involved in various local arts groups. He lives in Caversham, Reading and has also lived in Sonning Common.

John was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Chilterns Conservation Board in April 2021.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Oxfordshire County Council

I have been an Oxfordshire County Councillor since 2013 and most of the nine parishes I represent fall within the Chilterns Conservation Board area. I have always seen myself as a champion of these communities and make no apologies for saying, that for me, political allegiances come second at a local level. I have always spoken out against those of an urban mindset who promote growth at all costs and do not understand our rural and village way of life.

For four years between 2017 and 2021 I served as Cabinet Member for Finance. Now that my party is in Opposition, I have more time to devote to matters that I am passionate about away from the purely political; rural conservation is high on that list.

Prior to entering local politics, I spent 25 years running a successful communications company. One of our long-standing clients was Defra, which gave me extensive insight into rural affairs.

In my leisure time, I am a keen cyclist and have spent many, many hours cycling throughout the Chilterns and beyond.

Register of Interests

Robert CaringtonNominated by: Buckinghamshire Council

Robert Carington represents Ridgeway West ward on Buckinghamshire Council. He sits on the Transport, Environment and Climate Change Committee, Audit and Governance Committee and the Standards and General Purposes Committee. He is a new member of the Council being first elected in May 2021. He joined the Board in June 2021.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Oxfordshire Parish Councils

John is a parish councillor in Crowmarsh, where the Chilterns meet the Thames. He is a geology graduate and works part-time for the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in their communications team. John is a cyclist and walker, with interests in rights of way, public access, planning and sustainability. He is a Chiltern Society local path representative, a member of Oxfordshire’s Countryside Access Forum, and represents the Board on the Ridgeway National Trail partnership board.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Bedfordshire Parish Councils

I have been a Harlington Parish Councillor for some 40 years and chaired the council when Harlington became the first burial authority to introduce a new and badly needed cemetery within the severe restrictions imposed by the then NRA.

I frequently attended the training and planning workshop sessions organised by the CCB for local councillors as well as the sessions on restoration of waterways and other countryside matters, linking CCB AONB projects with our local groups and businesses.  A group of us were instrumental in helping Harlington Parish Council buy for the village, the hilltop stand of AONB woodland that echoes on a small scale,  Sharpenhoe Clappers on the far side of the valley, saving it from asset stripping of its trees.

I have always hoped my feedback at CCB planning workshops has helped the CCB scrutinise development plans for those items not shown in applications, as well as evaluating those that are.

To me, the Chilterns represent the epitome of the English countryside and I have spent 40 years trying to keep my own village much as I know my fellow residents want  – semi-rural; not an extension of an urban area such as Dunstable or Luton.


Now retired from a scientific career first in fluoropolymer research and then in microparticle and cell technology during which I became an “expert” in sub-clinical mastitis in cattle which introduced me to many in the farming community in the Chilterns, as well as internationally.

My wife and I moved to Harlington in 1973 and have lived here ever since. We have a daughter now living in a Northamptonshire village.

Register of Interests

Appointed by: Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Dr Gemma Harper OBE is Chief Executive of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) – the UK’s statutory advisor on nature conservation and recovery. Prior to joining JNCC, Gemma was Deputy Director of Marine policy and Deputy Race Champion in Defra. She was awarded an OBE for services to the marine environment in the New Year Honours 2021. In March 2020, Gemma was temporarily promoted to director to co-lead Defra’s Food Vulnerability directorate, as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response. She co-led the directorate to win the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion ‘Impact on the Citizen’ award.

From 2010 to 2017, Gemma was Defra’s Chief Social Scientist and, during this time, a member of the British Academy Public Policy Committee, the Social Research Association Strategy Group and the Government Social Research Leadership Board. In 2020, Gemma was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences for her contribution to social science.

Gemma was awarded the Defra Leadership Award twice, graduated from the Civil Service Senior Leaders Scheme, and is a University of Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy Fellow. Gemma recently completed the Leadership Centre’s Future Vision leadership programme.

In 2023, Gemma was appointed by Defra’s Secretary of State to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Conservation Board. She is advisor to the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) and the UCL-led Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement (CAPE). Gemma founded and co-chairs the Civil Service Network for Nature, whose mission is to connect civil and public servants to celebrate nature.

Register of interests to follow.

Board Member Paula HiscocksAppointed by: Hertfordshire County Council

After studying English and History at Reading I worked for The British Council in Sweden for five years where my appreciation for nature and wildlife was established.

Most of my career has been in Education having taught English at Secondary schools in Brent and Hertfordshire and then moving to Hertfordshire Language and Curriculum Support Unit advising teachers. I also served as a school governor until last year.

Alongside this is my love of the Arts. I was instrumental in saving Rickmansworth’s Watersmeet Theatre, managing and chairing it as a Trust for two years and starting the successful Film Society.

I have also been a District Councillor for Three Rivers Council for 14 years; serving on the Environmental and Leisure Panel as well as the Planning Committee amongst others. I was Chairman of the council in 2019 and Deputy Leader of my party.

At present I am deputy Executive Member for Children’s Services at Hertfordshire County Council and sit on this and the Education and Libraries Panel.

My love of the country side and the importance of our rights of way has always prevailed and I spent a lot of my time in Somerset walking in The Quantocks and on Exmoor.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Buckinghamshire Parish Councils

Charles has lived in Hambleden for 35 years but his family has lived in the parish for at least six generations. He has been a member of Hambleden Parish Council since May 2015 and was elected to the Board in January 2018.

He retired in 2012 after nearly 40 years on the scientific staff of the Natural History Museum in London; latterly in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, which was set up to promote Citizen Science. He has experience in managing projects in Biodiversity Informatics funded by the National Lottery Fund and European Union involving multiple international partners.

He has had a twelve-year involvement with the National Biodiversity Network, through managing the master list of UK organisms, and served on its Policy Committee. This aspect of his work brought him into regular contact with Government countryside and environment agencies, conservation organisations and wildlife groups.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: North Hertfordshire District Council

Steve Jarvis has been a member of North Hertfordshire District Council since 1992 and is currently the council’s Executive Member for Environment and Leisure. He is also a member of Hertfordshire County Council.

Steve has worked in the IT and telecommunications industries as an engineer, manager and director and has run a Hertfordshire based small business for many years.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Dr Geeta Ludhra lives in the Chilterns, after living in Slough, Hounslow and Nottinghamshire. She was raised within humble circumstances, as the daughter of first-generation South Asian parents who settled from India in the early 60s. Geeta’s heritage, education journey and research interests bring a unique lens as a Board Member. Geeta is passionately committed to diversity and representation in relation to natural landscapes as inclusive green spaces for all (Glover Review, 2019). She is keen to encourage new audiences to enjoy the beauty and charm of the Chilterns. Geeta runs a monthly walking group to encourage people to connect with nature for physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

Geeta works as a Lecturer in Education at Brunel University, where she teaches across Postgraduate programmes and engages in academic research– she is currently researching her book on ‘successful’ South Asian woman. Her background is rooted in primary school teaching and leadership, where she has worked across diverse London schools, specialising in English. Her working interests touch on women’s studies, social inclusion in education, anti-racism, and respectful ways of working with more ‘hard-to-reach’ communities.

As part of her community interests, Geeta runs a registered community enterprise, where she promotes intergenerational heritage cooking and storytelling, monthly nature walks and leads a women’s writing group.

Geeta has two grown-up daughters, and her relaxation interests include entertaining with heritage Indian cooking, watercolour painting (self-taught beginner), photography, nature walks and creative writing.

Geeta was appointed as a Chilterns Conservation Board Member in July 2021.

Register of Interests

Person in blue standing in front of a blue background with Conservative Environment Network written on it. Appointed by: Buckinghamshire Council

Jane MacBean is a Unitary Councillor in Buckinghamshire and Town Councillor in Chesham, and currently chairs Buckinghamshire Council’s Health & Adult Social Care select committee.  A member of the Buckinghamshire East planning committee for almost a decade, she is also a member of Bucks’ Natural Environment Partnership Board, their Leisure Board, and a member of the Strategic Flood Management Team.  As Leader of Chesham Town Council she co-created Communi-Tree, an urban re-planting initiative, and chairs Impress The Chess, a working group of members, officers, local nature agencies and volunteers focusing on protecting and enhancing local chalk streams including the River Chess and the Misbourne.  As a Board member of the Conservative Environment Network she regularly lobbies on environmental issues and collaborates with CEN’s MP caucus to influence national policy and legislation.

Register of Interests

Appointed by: Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

After studying at both Leeds and Durham Universities Paul enjoyed two careers. Firstly, in the European transport industry, when he ran a High Wycombe based international company and during which time he served on a number of both national and local industry organisations.

He then made a career change becoming Chief Executive and subsequently Trustee of the River & Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames, in which role he promoted several Thames and environment related education and outreach programmes. Paul was recognised in the 2014 Birthday Honours list for his ‘contribution to heritage education’.

Since retirement Paul has been active in several non-executive roles, including Chair of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust and a Trustee of the National Football Museum, Manchester. Currently, he is a member of the advisory board for the Museum of English Rural Life (University of Reading).

Paul has a particular interest in widening participation and exploring opportunities for more diverse communities to enjoy the Chilterns and all that they have to offer.

Paul has lived in the Chilterns all his life and in the Marlow area for the last forty-five years. He still rows regularly and is a keen dog walker and orchardist.

Paul was appointed Chairman of the Chilterns Conservation Board in April 2021 and stepped down in June 2023.

Register of Interests

Monochrome photo of a man with glasses in a suitAppointed by: Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Register of Interests


Nominated by: South Oxfordshire District Council

Nominated by: Buckinghamshire Council

Richard Newcombe has lived in Buckinghamshire for 36 years. He represents Wendover, Halton and Stoke Mandeville Ward on Buckinghamshire Council, where he is Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee. He has been a local authority nominee on the Chilterns Conservation Board since he was first elected to Aylesbury Vale District Council in 2017.

Richard is a retired criminal lawyer whose career in the Crown Prosecution Service was mainly spent in Northwest London and the Thames and Chiltern Areas. This has given him a good knowledge of the whole of the AONB.

He is particularly interested in planning. He sits on two of the Buckinghamshire planning committees. In particular he is interested in using planning to defend the AONB against illegal, unnecessary and inappropriate development, whilst recognising that the Chilterns have to evolve over time, as they always have in the past.

As Vice-Chairman of the Wendover and Villages Community Board, he believes that by co-operation between them local authorities and the Chilterns Conservation Board can do much to tackle and address issues such as biodiversity, climate change, economic prosperity and the pressures and opportunities of tourism.

Register of Interests

Appointed by: Luton Borough Council

I was elected Councillor of the Limbury Ward in Luton Borough Council in 2019, In May 2021 I was appointed a Portfolio Holder with responsibilities for Highways, Parking Enforcement and Sustainable Development.  Under Sustainable Development there are a number of areas that I am responsible, Planning, Climate Change, Heritage and Conservation being just some.

I have worked as a Probate Consultant with Co Op Legal Services assisting families with the difficulties of a Legal Process and Taxation of an Estate, but now devote all my time to my Portfolio duties.

I was Chair of Governors at Meads Primary School in Luton for four years but stood down in 2021 to allow other Governors to lead the school, I am still a School Governor.

Register of interests

Nominated by: Oxfordshire Parish Councils

Sue is a retired barrister who spent 30 years working as a corporate lawyer in the nuclear and pharmaceutical industries, her last job was Director of International Legal Affairs for a major US multinational.

She was raised and educated in the Chilterns and developed an interest in the woodlands, wildlife and flora of the area, from a very early age, inspired by her primary school headteacher and her love of the natural world. She has lived in South Oxfordshire for the last forty years. She was a Parish Councillor for Kidmore End for several years until she moved to Kingswood. She joined Rotherfield Peppard Parish council in June 2017, where she is chair of the planning committee.

Sue is a keen horse rider and walker and has a special interest in planning in the AONB, and the conservation and preservation of its unique beauty. She lives on the Wyfold Estate within the AONB and is on the Estate Management Board with a role in managing the Estates woodland conservation and land maintenance.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Buckinghamshire Parish Councils

Sir Hector lives in the Hambleden valley and is the Vice Chair of the Turville Parish Council. He has lived in and around the Chilterns  for thirty years.

He retired from executive work in 2013. Since then he has held a number of non executive roles; primarily in the public and charitable sector. His principal current role is Chair of the Money & Pensions Service. MaPs is a government body which seeks to ensure everyone has access to the information and help they need to make the best possible financial decisions, with a focus on those in vulnerable circumstances.

Prior to his current role he was Chair of Stepchange, a major debt advice charity.

Other previously held non-executive roles include Vice Chairman of Oliver Wyman, a management consultant, and Chair of the U.K. wealth manager Julius Baer International.

Between 1977 and 2014 his executive career was in financial services and regulation, which included serving as the CEO of the Financial Services Authority and the European CEO of Credit Suisse.

Outside of financial services his work has included chairing the University of Oxford; Said Business School and serving as a NHS non-executive director. He was educated at Clifton College and the University of Oxford.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I grew up in Tylers Green and have lived in Wycombe more or less all my life. I love my hometown and our community and of course our local environment. Having founded Chiltern Rangers in 2013, I have often wanted to play a small part in improving the bigger picture in the Chilterns.

I have nearly 20 years hands on experience managing the habitats of the Chilterns – chalk grasslands, chalk streams & woodlands in both urban and rural settings.

My passion is derived from connecting, inspiring and engaging people with place and removing any barriers to doing so.

I hope to help the board and indeed our sector, be more inclusive: engaging everyone of all ages, abilities and backgrounds through ensuring we think carefully about everyone and make it as easy as possible to take part in our work.

I look forward to helping Paul, Elaine and the team (board, staff and volunteers) as we work with our many partners to address the range of local, National and even existential challenges such as biodiversity and climate crises.

The time to act is now and we need to empower as many people, especially younger people, to our cause as we can.

Away from work I enjoy watching sport and spending time with my family. My daughter Holly (12) has Angelman Syndrome a neurological disorder and so my lived experience as a parent of a child with a disability helps keep me focussed on ensuring the natural world is well looked after and accessible for all.

It has proved more than ever in the past 16 months or so what an invaluable refuge it is and has offered us all respite in the pandemic – – we really need to give back.

Register of Interests

Appointed by: Central Bedfordshire Council

Nominated by: Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Joe Stewart is a Bid Writer at a specialist consultancy. He helps companies and charities from a wide range of sectors to tender for contracts with government departments, local authorities, and private clients. Joe has previously worked in the maritime sector as the Assistant Editor of a technical journal, and in children’s publishing.

Sitting on a Board is a new and exciting experience for Joe. He is a strong advocate for protected landscapes and local distinctiveness and is keen to bring a wider range of people to the Chilterns countryside.

Joe is a newcomer to the area, having moved to Reading in 2019. He has delighted in exploring the hills, forests, rivers and streams on his doorstep in the southern Chilterns and is gradually unearthing other areas of this special and diverse landscape.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Dacorum Borough Council

Sally Symington has been a member of Dacorum Borough Council since 2019 and sits on the Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny and Audit Committees. She is also a current member of Hertfordshire County Council and a former Chair of Great Gaddesden Parish Council.

Living in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and representing communities located within it, Sally has significant experience of the benefits it brings to local residents and impact on local economies. She is keen to see the Chilterns Conservation Board take an active role in helping tackle climate change and promoting sustainability.

Sally has previously worked in the Financial Services industry and has degrees in Physics and Public Policy.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Three Rivers District Council

Register of Interests

adrian watney board member ccbNominated by: Hertfordshire Parish Councils

I was born in Yorkshire but grew up in Sawbridgeworth in East Herts. I am married with 3 very grown-up children & 3 grandchildren. Part of my family were farmers in Essex and other family members farmed in Ireland.  I developed a strong bond with the countryside and farming as a result, which persists to this day.  I follow closely the debates concerning the future of farming.

I have lived in Bovingdon for nearly 10 years, I am now retired, and I feel very much a part of the Chilterns community.

I have been a parish councillor for Bovingdon Parish Council for over three years and have been particularly active on their planning committee. We are constantly battling to prevent encroachment on the green belt. I am also a member of the Berkshire Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire wildlife trust.

I trained as a solicitor in London and then spent three years as a lawyer in Zambia where I travelled extensively.  My time in Africa helped to develop my strong interest in wildlife and the countryside. Following my time in Africa I worked as a solicitor in Maidenhead where I dealt with a number of planning issues involving some major building projects, development of farmland, including encroachment into the greenbelt and, on occasion, the effect on AONBs.

I was also at this time the secretary of the Maidenhead chamber of commerce, and this has helped me in dealing with, and understanding, the workings of committees.

I believe my experiences as above and legal training have enabled me to develop good communication skills and furthermore an understanding of both, or indeed all sides of an argument which has been has been useful in Parish council meetings.

I am passionate about the protecting the countryside and in particular AONBs and I look forward to being  a part of the Chilterns Conservation Board.

Register of Interests

Nominated by: Buckinghamshire Council

Gareth Williams is the Deputy Leader of Buckinghamshire Council and holds the Environment and Climate Change Portfolio. He is Councillor for the Chess Valley ward and joined the board in May 2022.

Register of Interests

Appointed by: Buckinghamshire Council

Board Member regulations

icon Code of Conduct

Members must abide by a Code of Conduct, which includes registering of any interests.

icon Members' Allowance Scheme

All members receive an allowance to cover their expenses in carrying out their duties.

icon Statutory Requirements and Code of Governance

The meetings and proceedings of the Board are subject to regulations.
Chilterns ANOB
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Chilterns AONB Management Plan

The Chilterns AONB Management Plan 2019-24: Caring for the Chilterns forever and for everyone contains a comprehensive summary of the key issues facing the AONB and the management policies and actions needed to conserve this special place.
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Board Meetings

Here you can find records from previous Board meetings and information about future ones.