Simon's Blog: Nationally Important?
In my role as the manager of a small staff team set up to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of two outstanding landscapes, the Dedham Vale and Suffolk Coast & Heaths I get to speak with many people.
Those people are often rightly proud of these areas, that are designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). So they should be, these areas are nationally significant and designated.
This is sometimes confusion about this designation. People will refer to the areas as having Outstanding Natural Beauty when they may well be fantastic landscapes but are not designated as AONB. AONBs are designated by the Government so that these special landscapes can be conserved and enhanced for the nation. The difference may be somewhat technical but there is a real difference in how decisions are made.
I understand the technicalities around this appeal only to only a few. What does surprise me is when professionals appear to not know, acknowledge or understand the importance of the designation. This sometimes comes to light when development proposals are submitted for works that will impact upon the AONB’s Natural Beauty.
It is not a difficult concept. If you forgive one digression into the technical arena, let me quote from the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework that states: Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.
We should all be proud that we live and work in some of England’s finest landscapes. We should celebrate their special qualities, be that their landscapes, wildlife or historical connections. What I would encourage you all to remember is that these landscapes are national assets that are worth conserving in their own right, and as I have mentioned previously offer so much in terms of our health and well-being and our economic prosperity.
And remember it is not just what we think, these outstanding landscapes are designated by the Government and protected in law as nationally important assets.
First published in the East Anglian Daily Times February 2017