Hannah Blythyn, Minister for Environment
This week is National Parks Week and today I am publishing my priorities for the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks, and announcing the reinstatement of the National Park Authorities’ budgets to support delivery.
In my Oral Statement on 13 March I confirmed all of Wales’ existing designated landscapes will be retained and their current purpose of conserving and enhancing natural beauty will not be weakened.
Designated Landscapes: Valued and Resilient outlines key priority areas following consideration of the outcomes from the Review of Designated Landscapes, Future Landscapes Wales Programme and responses to the Taking forward Wales’ sustainable management of natural resources consultation. It provides clarity of purpose for the National Parks and AONBs in the context of the UK’s exit from the European Union and at the close of a period of review.
It calls on the designated landscapes managing bodies to deliver on a number of Welsh Government priorities, including the Nature Recovery Plan, a refreshed woodland strategy, the decarbonisation agenda, and Cymraeg 2050. Its 10 cross-cutting themes aim to improve resilience and realise the full value of Wales’ landscapes:
- Landscapes for everyone
- Exemplars of the sustainable management of natural resources
- Halting the loss of biodiversity
- Green energy and decarbonisation
- Realising the economic potential of landscape
- Growing tourism and outdoor recreation
- Thriving Welsh language
- All landscapes matter
- Delivering through collaboration
- Innovation in resourcing
Earlier this year, I announced over £3.4 million in additional funding for the AONBs and National Parks to support a wide range of projects, including improving access to the outdoors, promoting conservation and regenerating some of their most fragile areas.
I want to provide security of resources for the designated landscapes during these uncertain times. In order to deliver on these priorities, I am reinstating the National Park Authorities’ budgets to last year’s (2017/18) level, which means an additional £1.5 million over 2 years. This is proof of my commitment to them.
This follows a recent announcement from Natural Resources Wales of an additional £1 million for the AONB partnerships through a 3 year core grant funding settlement. This is in addition to the £550,000 they are receiving from the Welsh Government over the next 2 years through the Sustainable Development Fund. I am currently working with them to address issues around parity with National Parks.
With this funding I expect the designated landscapes managing bodies to work efficiently, drawing on collaborative partnerships, to deliver on these priorities and drive forward the sustainable management of natural resources in their areas.
I am committed to ensuring AONBs and National Parks are valued for their natural beauty by our people, communities and country – and, that our designated landscapes deliver rich ecosystems, vibrant and resilient communities and opportunities for outdoor recreation for all of the people of Wales.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.