Earlier this month, the Government published its response to the Landscapes Review, an independent review led by Julian Glover and published in 2019, and opened a consultation enabling the public to express their views.
Commenting on the response, Dan Cooke, Tamar Valley AONB Manager said: ‘We welcome the Government’s full response to the Landscapes Review, and the 12-week consultation on some of the key changes proposed.’
Dan continues, ‘There are now some excellent opportunities to strengthen the purposes, powers and resources of AONBs. These could help to ‘level up’ AONBs (or National Landscapes) with the UK’s National Parks, in order to further protect and enhance our treasured landscapes like the Tamar Valley, which are so vitally important for people, communities and wildlife.
‘Proposal 24 of the Glover Review recommended that: ‘AONBs be strengthened with new purposes, powers and resources, renamed as National Landscapes’ – and it’s important that all these aspects are addressed to help ensure the vital benefits and improvements envisaged in the review.’
Tamar Valley AONB Partnership Chair, Martin Howlett, said: ‘The Landscapes Review rightly recognised the essential role AONBs can take via local delivery of positive change within the dual challenges of declared climate & ecological emergencies.
‘Here in the Tamar Valley, our ongoing delivery of combined multi-million-pound initiatives including Farming in Protected Landscapes, Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund and the Tamara Landscape Partnership Scheme continue to build resilience in the wider community and this special landscape.
‘We would encourage everyone with an interest in protecting and enhancing our national landscapes to scrutinise the detail and respond to the current consultation.’
The Tamar Valley AONB supports the position of the National Association for AONBs, which is as follows:
Purposes: we would like to see an extension and revision of AONB purposes as recommended by Glover, to reflect the priorities to which AONBs should respond and to more accurately reflect the work AONB teams already do. A first purpose which maintains the pursuit of championing natural beauty with a strengthened link to nature recovery on a landscape scale and the importance of cultural heritage. A second purpose to promote understanding and enjoyment of the area’s natural beauty by the public.
Powers: we continue to advocate a strengthening of the ‘duty of regard’ (that local authorities have to maintain to protect designated landscapes), with this linked to strengthening the status of AONB management plans, and for AONB partnerships to have a formal role in planning and development management.
Resources: Glover recommended an immediate doubling of core funding. We need double over this parliament (three years) as an immediate fix, then would look to work with Defra to develop a dynamic and progressive formula which reflects ambition and future needs.
Governance: Secure robust minimum governance standards which provide sufficient independence from host local authorities to guarantee the integrity of the designation (as AONBs/National Landscapes), dynamic and more representative of the wider UK population.
National Landscapes: renaming AONBs as National Landscapes may help more people to better understand why they are important and what we do. It’s important at this stage that government acknowledges the value of this proposal reflecting a meaningful step change in what an AONB is able to deliver for climate, nature and people, backed up with the resources needed to make this happen.
Have your say
The Government’s response is accompanied by a 12-week consultation to seek views on the Government’s proposals. The Tamar Valley AONB will be submitting its views and Partners and members of the public are encouraged to do the same.
The consultation closes on 9th April 2022.
This is an opportunity for people to shape how protected landscapes will deliver benefits for people and nature for years to come. These are national landscapes, have your say, get involved.
To take part in the survey, please click here.
**UPDATED – 25 March 2022**
The Tamar Valley AONB has produced a Briefing Note that we hope will be helpful and encourage you to respond.
image: St Germans Viaduct, Tamar Valley AONB (c) Tobi O’Neill/TON Drone Services