Area of outstanding natural beauty.
It has been suggested that the Colne Valley should be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ; a designation afforded to our neighbours in the Dedham Vale and Stour valley.
The PC has therefore been investigating the procedure and we contacted our old friend Simon Amstutuz who many will remember helped us to create White Colne Meadows. He is now the AONB Manager for the Deham vale and we have reproduced his informative reply below. Do please get in touch if you would like to make any comments about this subject. We are keen to hear residents’ views.
“The benefits of an area being designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are many and varied. They include all public bodies’ need to pay regard to the purposes of Natural Beauty when making decisions (eg road building, housing development, utilities, etc etc). The AONB is a national designation and as such ultimately requires Secretary of State sign off for variations to boundary and/or creation of new AONBs. There is a very detailed process to be undertaken for boundary reviews/new creations and this is in the hands of Natural England. This includes an assessment of landscape quality and desirability.
I have cut and pasted some info below from the .gov website and you might want to look at the page to get more information. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/areas-of-outstanding-natural-beauty-aonbs-designation-and-management
We have sent a discussion paper to the minister responsible for AONBs on how the process might be speeded up and I understand Natural England staff are looking at this. However I have been told that there is a variety of views within cabinet as to the desirability or otherwise of AONB boundary designation
I am involved in two AONBs (Suffolk Coast & Heaths and Dedham Vale). In the SCH the intention to extend the AONB was made some 20 years ago and Natural England will be undertaking formal consultation early next year. In the DV the AONB Partnership wrote to Natural England in Nov 2009 outlining its aspiration for Boundary Review and Natural England have not been able to start a process to meet that aspiration. I am aware that Natural England will look at the Surrey Hills AONB boundary review aspiration after the completion of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths one and then there are a number (perhaps between 6-10) areas interested in review/creation. Natural England have not informed others how they will manage this queue.
Natural England’s responsibilities (from their website )
Under the CROW Act, Natural England can make orders to designate AONBs or vary the boundaries of existing ones. These powers apply to England only.
Natural England must:
give advice to local planning authorities on development proposals in an AONB
consider the conservation and enhancement of AONBs in its work, for example when carrying out land management activities or giving permission for statutory bodies to carry out works in an AONB
Meet the natural beauty criterion
Before Natural England proposes an area becomes an AONB, it must meet the ‘natural beauty criterion’. This could be a combination of factors, such as:
landscape quality, where natural or man-made landscape is good quality
scenic quality, such as striking coastal landforms
relative wildness, such as distance from housing or having few roads
relative tranquillity, where natural sounds, such as streams or birdsong are predominant
natural heritage features, such as distinctive geology or species and habitat
cultural heritage, which can include the built environment that makes the area unique, such as archaeological remains or historic parkland
Natural England has the discretion to consider whether to assess and designate the area as an AONB.
Natural England will consider if:
evidence suggests the land might meet the natural beauty criterion
there’s local agreement that designation is appropriate
benefits to the area are greater than the costs of designation
it’s more important than other corporate priorities
Natural England must:
decide if a proposal meets the natural beauty criterion before it makes an order to designate or vary an AONB
define a detailed boundary
follow the designation process
To designate an AONB Natural England must issue an order under section 82 of the CROW Act for the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of that area.
To change an existing boundary Natural England must issue a variation order and follow the same process below.
Natural England must:
consult each local authority affected by the proposed order (or variation order)
publish the proposals in The Gazette and local newspapers of each affected local authority
consider all representations made against the proposals and make any necessary modifications
submit the order to the Secretary of State for Defra, including any unresolved representations or objections
The Secretary of State for Defra can confirm, refuse, modify or vary any order made by Natural England to designate or vary the boundary of an AONB.”