AONB Designation – What the Society is doing

The centrepiece of CMS’s strategy for the Cambrian Mountains is a vibrant economy powered by and dependent on the conservation of its environment – its landscape, history and culture. We have, from the outset, argued that designation of the Cambrian Mountains as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was an essential first step.

The Society works continuously to further this aim, and recent activity relating to its campaign is summarised below.

1. CMS had a supportive and constructive meeting with Morgan Parry, Chairman of the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW)*.  He also addressed our 2011 AGM.
2. We have set up a sub committee to concentrate on developing a road map of the way to achieving AONB status.
3. We are developing liaison with the Cambrian Mountains Initiative – a scheme initiated by the Prince of Wales which has some overlaps with our own ideas.  In particular it aims to help promote rural enterprise, protect the environment and add value to products and services in Mid Wales (but does not include AONB status).
4. We have had meetings with managers of selected existing AONBs.
5. The extension of the Clwydian Range AONB (approved in 2011) is an encouraging step, and shows that the Welsh government views AONB designation in a positive light. CCW naturally devoted a large amount of its landscape protection effort to this project, with the result that other proposals received a low priority.
6. We have now made presentations to the Executive or Cabinet of all three Local Authorities covering the Cambrian Mountains.  Most recently we gave the presentation to Ceredigion CC Cabinet and it  was well received. We have also had discussions on AONB status with selected Community Councils.
7. We have kept track of the Welsh Government’s proposals for a Natural Environment Framework – which is likely to involve a complete rethink of designations in Wales.As part of this monitoring, we have met Matthew Quinn, Welsh Government Director of Environment and Sustainable Development – a senior civil servant and one of the lead architects in the the forthcoming Environment Bill.We have also been keeping a close eye on the work of the Welsh Upland Forum and we have written a critique of their report – Unlocking the Potential of the Uplands.
8. Following advice from the chief executive of the National Association of AONBs (NAAONB) that the Nant y Moch windfarm proposal would be inconsistent with AONB status for that area we have pressed ahead with developing the case against the windfarm proposal.
9. CMS Trustee Peter Foulkes has recently been voted on to the Management Board of the NAAONB for a three-year term.

It will be clear from all this that a Cambrian Mountains AONB is not going to be achieved overnight, and will require a lot of work on many fronts, possibly for a number of years. However, CMS remains confident – the positive experience of existing AONBs gives ample grounds – that AONB status would bring great and lasting benefits to the Cambrian Mountains.

This view received authorative support from a 2009 report commissioned by CCW: Pathfinder – Testing the Appropriateness of Designation. Click the link to read a summary of its findings, and an assessment of what they may mean for the CMS campaign.

*CCW’s functions have since been taken over by Natural Resources Wales.