One of the Countryside Council for Wales’ last achievements, before its assimilation into Natural Resources Wales, was the extension of the Clwydian Hills AONB. CCW’s quest for superb Welsh landscapes in need of better protection and management wasn’t over. We tried hard to draw its attention to the Cambrian Mountains, but it turned instead to Berwyn and the Ceiriog Valley – just across the Dee from its recent success.
A 2012 report for CCW on Y Berwyn by consultants Julie Martin Associates, concluded “that … there is strong evidence that designation … as an AONB is desirable for the statutory purpose of conserving and enhancing the area’s natural beauty. It is a single, unified upland ridge and valley system that is very clearly in need of consistent, coherent planning and management”.
It also said: “… the landscape has no special status or recognition. There is therefore no strong policy protection in relation to wind energy, major infrastructure or further extensive forestry development. Such recognition is very important here, given the area’s national landscape importance, its proximity to Snowdonia National Park, and the likelihood of major wind energy and National Grid developments in the surrounding area.
“AONB designation would bring not only addition policy protection for the area itself but also advice and additional resources to help ensure that any future developments fully respect the special qualities and setting of this nationally important landscape.”
It all reads like the Cambrian Mountains Society’s own AONB proposal document !
However well-grounded, a recommendation can take a long time to become a designation – ten years in the case of the Clwydian Hills extension. Nevertheless, CMS remains convinced that an independent study of the Cambrian Mountains would reach similar conclusions to those in the report on Y Berwyn, and we continue to press the case for designation.