Minister for Environment, Hannah Blythyn, has given a firm commitment that all Wales’ existing Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks will be retained and their current purpose of conserving and enhancing natural beauty will not be weakened. The Minister confirmed the designated landscapes review process, which has been ongoing since 2013, will draw to a close with the publication of a policy statement in the coming months.
In May 2017, the Future Landscapes Working Group, chaired by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, published a review of Wales’ National Parks and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONBs). The Group was established to explore the recommendations of the Marsden Report into the future of Wales’ designated landscapes, which provided 69 wide-ranging recommendations. During a plenary debate last June, the future protection of Wales’ designated landscapes under the current Welsh Government was called into question. Today the Minister sought to reassure all concerned parties the Welsh Government will not be changing the purposes of National Parks or AONBs.
IHannah Blythyn said: “My priority over the coming months will be to work with the Park Authorities and AONB partnerships on our contemporary Welsh approach to ecosystems and landscapes, while recognising the enduring value of their original purpose. I am committed to ensuring Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks are valued for their natural beauty by our people, communities and country and our designated landscapes deliver rich ecosystems, vibrant and resilient communities and opportunities for outdoor recreation for all of the people of Wales.”