Agenda item

Designated Landscapes Review in England and Wales


We received a report regarding the Review of Designated Landscapes in England and Wales.


In doing so, the following information was noted:


  • DEFRA has published Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 as the first revision of the 25 Year Environment Plan (2018).


  • Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) 2023 focuses on 10 goals including “Thriving plants and wildlife”, “Clean and plentiful water”, “Mitigating and adapting to climate change” and “Enhanced beauty, heritage, and engagement with the natural environment”.


  • Under the ‘enhanced beauty’ goal the Government will “invest in a new national landscapes partnership for National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and National Trails” and “extend the delivery of our Farming in Protected Landscapes programme”.


  • The Welsh National Designated Landscapes Partnership, Tirweddau Cymru Landscapes Wales (TCLW), is hosting a seminar on the role of Designated Landscapes in the nature emergency, on 9th-10th March 2023 in Gower, Swansea.


  • Tirweddau Cymru Landscapes Wales (TCLW) has three new seconded staff taking strategic leads for the AONBs and National Parks. Andrew Blake, Wye Valley AONB Manager, has been appointed vice-chair of TCLW for 2023-25.


  • The National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) continues to liaise and co-ordinate collaboration with both governments and key stakeholders over progressing the agenda for AONBs.


Having received the report, the following points were noted:


  • It was considered that the Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) 2023 has not delivered appropriate improvements.


  • In response to questions raised, the AONB Manager informed the Committee that more is being asked of the AONB Unit.  Some additional resources have become available, however, not to the levels of resources and staff as proposed in the Glover Report.


  • The rebranding of AONBs as ‘National Landscapes’ is a concern for many AONBs across the UK due to the removal of ‘Natural Beauty’ from the title. The AONB Manager will shortly receive a briefing on the proposed re-branding.


  • In response to questions raised regarding the cleanliness of the River Wye, the AONB Manager informed the Committee that he sits on various steering groups regarding this matter and it was noted that there has been significant political engagement and activity in recent years with a view to rectifying the problem.


  • It is anticipated that it will take up to 10 years for the River Wye to return to a pristine condition.


  • County and District Councils located within the AONB are aware of the condition of their rivers and are adding their influence to aid in improvements to river quality.


  • Concern was expressed that the wildlife within the AONB will be severely impacted before the river Wye is returned to a pristine condition. Significant improvements are required now to improve the cleanliness of the River Wye.


  • The AONB Partnership Seminar will be discussing the enhancement of water catchment through innovative land management. The seminar will be held at Goodrich Village Hall on Thursday 16th March 2023 between 10.00am and 3.00pm. Experts in soil and land management, agroforestry and natural flood management will be presenting.


We resolved:


(i)            to note the report;


(ii)          that the AONB Manager presents a briefing report to the next meeting of the Joint Advisory Committee regarding an update on the condition of the river Wye.


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