Why an AONB?

  • An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is the right level of protection for an area such as the Forest of Dean, as it protects whilst allowing appropriate sustainable development.

  • AONB status can pull in grant funds.  The Wye Valley AONB estimate that the area has attracted for each £1 spent on running the AONB at least £4 - £11 comes back in.

  • Development is restricted only by planning policies that reflect local community need.

  • Would help to ensure that Commoning and Freemining rights are retained.

 

Frequently asked Questions:-

Natural England

Since 2006 English Nature and Countryside Agency have merged to form Natural England. Natural England has yet to make comment as to whether it feels the Forest of Dean could be made an AONB.

The possibility of a new FOD AONB is already on Natural England’s programme schedule.
 

Timescale

Bearing in mind the above if Natural England and the Council were to support the designation what is the time scale and process involved.

The Minister has already asked for accelerated consideration of the matter and there is no reason for delay from that point of view.
 

Boundaries

Are there areas the Council would clearly support to be in or not to be in a new designation.

Because of the advantages of a designation, it is unlikely that communities would wish to be excluded. However, the Council would have ample opportunity to discuss these matters with NE.


Is there a key geographic area that the Council would support an AONB based on e.g. the Hundred of St Briavels?

There are AONB-quality landscapes both inside and outside the Hundred of St Briavels. NE will advise the Local Authorities of these. The general principle will be to include unless there are reasons to exclude.
 

Funding

What are the likely resource implications of a new AONB?

Development of an AONB, boundary reviews and public enquiry?

There will be some initial costs, but there will be government assistance, and it would be wrong to lose long-term advantages simply to save a short term cost. (Would you refuse to pay a bus fare to get you to a job interview that would provide you with an income for the rest of your life?)


Development of a management plan, monitoring and staffing?

This is a normal part of the AONB management process, and would be funded from central government, at little cost to the Local Authority.


Opportunities for attracting further funding?

All AONBs attract government and European funding, a lot of which is not available to non-designated areas. It would be reasonable to expect a considerable added value return on the funding that would be available to the District. Last year, simply via this further funding, the Wye Valley AONB received three times more that it spent on AONB team salaries and management.

 

Planning

Implications of current local plan policy (R) FNE5 across a larger area?

The District Council will remain the planning authority, but with stronger powers than at the moment.


 

Landscape protection benefits?

Considerable.


Is there an advantage in parity with other areas of the county, what are likely to be the implications on those areas outside of any new designation?

The designation would formalise the recently formed Cotswolds and FOD Destination Management Organisation, putting us on a par with the Cotswolds – which is said to be the second most important tourist destination outside London. In Minerals and Waste planning terms the new FOD AONB designated area would be the same as the Cotswold AONB; e.g. a primary constraint area.

 

Housing

Would it affect the delivery of affordable housing across the district?

There would be no change compared with the present situation, however, some AONBs do have special initiatives for affordable housing for local people. A designation would prevent any deterioration in our present situation.


Would it affect the affordability of the districts housing stock?

Although we share the same difficulties as virtually all other local authorities in the land regarding affordable housing, on the Halifax Rural house Price Index (2006) the District is better off than nearly 90% of other local authorities. AONB might help us to maintain this position.

 

Economic Development

What added value would designation bring to the tourism sector?

Available evidence from throughout the SW and UK indicates that a designated status will bring benefits measured in the tens to hundreds of millions of pounds.

 

Is it likely to constrain or assist other economic sectors?

The evidence is overwhelming that such a policy would be the single greatest step to ensuring economic growth and higher income jobs, thus insuring not only short-term prosperity but also prosperity sustainable in the long-term. In the last ten years alone, there have been 20 independent and unchallenged studies illustrating this.


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