AONB response to the Designated Landscapes Review

 In AONB updates, Farming & land management

Designated landscapes review

In May 2018, the government asked for an independent review into whether the protections for National Parks and AONBs are still fit for purpose. In particular, what might be done better, what changes will help and whether the definitions and systems in place are still valid. The panel of six, led by Julian Glover, visited every Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Park, and the review’s call for evidence received around 2,500 submissions. The final report was published on 21 September 2019.


Response from National Association for AONBs

The National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) welcomes the findings of the Designated landscapes review. We are pleased that the review team have recognised the value of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation and the hard work that AONB staff and members carry out to conserve and enhance these special areas. We are also heartened that the review team recognise that, given adequate resources, there is so much more we can deliver for nature and society. We particularly welcome the recommendation that government provides the resources and policy framework to support local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty teams to do this. We would like to thank Julian Glover, Dame Fiona Reynolds, Sarah Mukherjee, Jim Dixon, Ewen Cameron and Jake Fiennes for their time and commitment and for producing a challenging but fair report.

The central proposition that AONBs are strengthened with new purposes, powers and resources, and renamed as National Landscapes is a powerful and fundamentally important step in ensuring the benefits of the AONB designation are optimised. The NAAONB looks forward to working with Defra, Natural England, and all 34 AONB partnerships to ensure this proposition becomes reality.

Currently, funding of all AONBs in the country costs each taxpayer less than 20p per year. AONB teams and conservation boards have proved themselves time and again to be lithe organisations, capable of punching well above their weight. With increased resources and a supportive policy framework in place, the future for the nation’s most beloved areas looks bright.

Philip Hygate FRSA, Chairman of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty said:
“I am delighted the report recognises the immense value and potential of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and sets bold ambitions for their higher profile within the urgent imperatives of nature recovery and improving the health of the Nation. The National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will work to ensure the Report is prioritised in the widest of policy contexts in the coming months and years. It is of the highest importance that the challenging but very positive messages of the Report are not lost sight of in the welter of pressures facing Government and Parliament. Indeed, fulfilment of the Report’s recommendations offers an unequivocally decent and positive focus for public and political dialogue and an opportunity to reunite a divided Nation.”

Howard Davies, Chief Executive of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty said:
“In this, the 70th anniversary year of the passing of the legislation which paved the way for the setting up of our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks, the Review was particularly welcome. Society has changed beyond recognition since that pioneering legislation was put into place. The demands placed on our designated landscapes have never been greater, demands matched only by our increased human need for natural beauty, wild spaces and tranquil places.”

AONB Partnerships already have the skills, networks and expertise in place to deliver; they also have the will, as evidenced by the Colchester Declaration made at their conference earlier this year. This saw AONBs collectively commit to specific ambitious, stretching targets designed to protect what remains and, crucially, recover what has been lost in our natural environment. This builds on proven expertise in habitat restoration as evidenced by the small selection of 70 case studies in our Nature Recovery Solutions fact file.

We strongly welcome the assertion that there is a clear case for increased funding for AONBs. AONB partnerships were only given their limited powers in the year 2000, fifty-one years after the act that brought them into existence. Now is exactly the time to bring the ‘founding zeal’ to life. We have the all energy, skills, ambition and strong partnerships needed to deliver, and we call on Westminster to provide us with the power and resources to enable us to do so.

Landscapes review – final report

NAAONB detailed response to the designated landscapes review

A wide landscape with a patchwork of fields and hedgerows and hills in the backgroun

View north towards Quantock Hills AONB from Staple Hill. Photo: Liam Marsh


The National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) is a charity that provides a strong collective voice for the UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Its objectives are to promote the conservation and enhancement of AONBs, advance the education, understanding and appreciation by the public of AONBs, and promote the efficiency and effectiveness of those promoting or representing AONBs, other Protected Areas and those areas for which designation might be pursued. It does this by taking a collaborative and partnership based approach to working with our membership and other organisations at a national level to achieve shared goals.

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