Agenda item

Changes to AONBs


We received a report in which the Joint Advisory Committee was advised of forthcoming changes occurring to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, particularly relating to the duties of relevant authorities and the re-branding of AONBs to National Landscapes.


In doing so, the following information was noted:


  • Government amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB), announced in September 2023, strengthen the duty on relevant authorities towards conserving and enhancing natural beauty and enhances AONB Management Plans by enabling a stronger link to national targets and a requirement on partners to contribute to their delivery.


  • The LURB amendments require relevant authorities in England to ‘seek to further the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty’ of the AONB. Meanwhile, relevant authorities in Wales retain the ‘duty of regard’ to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty.


  • LURB amendments also allow the Secretary of State to make provision to require relevant authorities in England “to contribute to the preparation, implementation or review” of an AONB Management Plan and for the Plan to contribute to meeting targets set under the Environment Act 2021.


  • DEFRA resourcing for AONBs, particularly through the Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) programme and Access for All funding has increased over the last two years and been consolidated until March 2025. Meanwhile DEFRA is working on a review of the funding formula for National Parks & AONBs.


  • On 22nd November 2023 the National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) will host an event at the Royal Society, London, to launch when all the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty across England and Wales become National Landscapes. The following day is the NAAONB AGM and Chairs’ Conference on Ambition and Leadership. The AONB Manager is intending to represent the AONB at these events.


  • The Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change is supportive of Welsh AONBs adopting the National Landscape rebrand and intends to sponsor an event in the Senedd to raise the profile of AONBs.


  • Together the LURB amendments, consolidated funding and National Landscape rebrand significantly progress the Glover Landscapes Review Proposal 24 that “AONBs should be strengthened with new purposes, powers and resources, and renamed as National Landscapes.”


  • The Government’s formal response to the Glover Landscapes Review is expected to be published shortly.


  • The NAAONB, DEFRA and Welsh Government will be producing respective guidance on the LURB amendments and the National Landscape rebrand later in the year.


Having received the report, the following points were noted:


·         The tagline ‘Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ will still be used below the rebranding. However, we will begin to refer to the AONB much less and move towards referencing the National Landscape, going forward.


·         Each AONB will receive in the region of £3000 to cover the cost of the rebranding.


·         Discussions with Welsh Government are ongoing regarding funding.


·         Discussions are being held with civil servants in DEFRA and it is hoped that sufficient resources will be provided.


·         The re-branding will be bi-lingual with the logos provided through the funding from DEFRA.


·         In response to a question raised regarding monitoring progress, it was noted that until we know what we will be monitoring from Natural England, responsibilities lie across a number of public bodies, not just AONBs.


We acknowledged the forthcoming changes to AONBs relating to legislation in England on the duties of relevant authorities and the national re-branding of AONBs to National Landscapes.


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