WSBRC covers the whole administrative area of the county of Wiltshire and the borough of Swindon. Wiltshire Council formally replaced Wiltshire County Council and the District Councils of Kennet, North Wiltshire, Salisbury and West Wiltshire in 2009 as the new unitary authority for Wiltshire.
Wiltshire Council is one of the largest unitary authorities in England with a population of approximately 706,300 covering some 3,485 km². Swindon Borough covers 230 km² with a population of around 218,000. The largest inland county in southern England, it is dominated by large areas of chalk downland but is a county of great variety in terms of landscapes, habitats and land-use.
Chalk and cheese
The phrase ‘Chalk and Cheese’ has often been used to describe the two geological and landscape forms which apply across much of the county. ‘Chalk’, referring to the expanses of rolling downland including Salisbury Plain, Cranborne Chase and the Marlborough Downs, cut through with the chalk streams of the Salisbury Avon and its tributaries in the south and the Thames in the Marlborough Downs and upwards. The southern part of the Marlborough Downs holds the extensive woodland cover of the ancient Savernake Forest.
‘Cheese’ refers to the flatter pasture of north-west Wiltshire, much of which is underlain by clay beds and interspersed with watercourses such as the Semington Brook, the Marden and the Biss which feed into the Bristol Avon. Further north lies the Cotswold Water Park which provides an important wetland corridor for wildlife alongside mineral extraction and recreation with its mosaic of lakes and neutral meadows.
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