Reassurance for National Parks and AONBs

Five years on and after two independent reviews, the Welsh Government has insisted that all the country’s national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty will be retained and their current purpose ‘of conserving and enhancing natural beauty’ will not be weakened or changed.  Environment minister Hannah Blythyn  promised a policy statement “in the coming months” but also committed to holding discussions on the governance and partnerships in AONBs that would improve “delivery and accountability”.  She stressed that the reviews and discussions of the past five years had not provided a consensus on whether it was necessary to change the original purpose of the designated areas, which gives primacy to the conservation of natural beauty.  However, she said: “This does not mean there is not a need for park authorities or AONB partnerships to pursue activity that supports the social and economic resilience of communities in their areas. They should, and there is no barrier to them doing so within their existing purpose”.  Blythyn also argued that there was a need to improve the connection between the existing purposes, including biodiversity conservation, and the framework within the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.