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Policy Paper (Landscapes Review) Published 15 January 2022

02/07/22
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The Policy Paper 'Landscapes Review (National Parks and AONBs): Government Response' was published on Saturday, 15 January 2022.

With a Foreword from The Rt Hon Lord Benyon, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the full paper is available to read by CLICKING HERE.

As readers will know, The Cheshire Sandstone Ridge was shortlisted for Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation on 24 June 2021 and our designation process with Natural England begins in earnest this Spring.

Mention of the Ridge, appears in the Paper as follows:

Natural England has set out an ambitious new landscape designation programme, helping us to implement Proposals 20-22. This includes considering the creation of two new AONBs in the Yorkshire Wolds and Cheshire Sandstone Ridge, and extensions to the Surrey Hills and Chilterns AONBs. The new programme, which includes undertaking an All-England Assessment, is exploring new approaches to improve landscapes for people and nature, particularly in and around towns and cities. It will enable a more collaborative process to designate new National Parks and AONBs.

Importantly too, it proposes that AONBs will be renamed as 'National Landscapes' — see below.

Strengthened AONBs
The review recognised the vast majority of AONBs are indistinguishable from National Parks and are just as important for people and nature but lack equivalent recognition in law or support in resources. Proposal 24 therefore called for "AONBs strengthened with new purposes, powers and resources, renamed as National Landscapes". The package of reformed purposes and resources set out in this response are relevant to all protected landscapes and lead partners. However, we agree that action needs to be a priority in AONBs in order to unlock their full potential in achieving our vision alongside our National Parks.

We agree that the national significance of our AONBs should be reflected in their name. We are currently working with the National Association for AONBs to identify the best way to exemplify the values which underpin this renewed family of protected landscapes in their branding. As part of that work, we are testing the proposal to rename AONBs as 'National Landscapes'. Any name change must represent a step change for AONB teams with the ambitious new title encompassing new purposes delivered by skilled teams, sustainable funding and robust governance. Pulled together as a package these proposals have the potential to deliver a transformational approach to AONB leadership and management.

We will keep you posted.

(our image is taken from the Policy Paper)