A proposal to remove Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status from Gower, and the other AONBs in Wales has been made by an independent panel commissioned by the Welsh Labour Government. The panel, chaired by Professor Terry Marsden of Cardiff University, has proposed keeping National Parks, but replacing Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty with National Landscapes of Wales.
While Professor Marsden’s panel is right about retaining National Parks, the recommendation to replace our five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty by National Landscapes of Wales is misguided, and should be ignored.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are set up by the same legislation that established the National Parks. Splitting the two up in this way makes no sense. What makes even less sense is that one of Wales’ Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Wye Valley, is joint with England. Are we just going to re-designate our half?
Gower is a living, working landscape, much loved and valued by local people and visitors alike. If it is to remain so, then it will have to be given special attention as a place where the principles of sustainable development can be applied and maintained. This change could hit jobs and tourism as well as undermine the ethos that has kept Gower special for everybody to join since 1956.
There is already a UK-wide Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Action Plan, and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty themselves are working together on it. Why waste time and money re-inventing the wheel?
Nearly sixty years ago, Gower was the first AONB to be designated anywhere in the UK.
There is no point in changing a status that is widely understood by local people, as well as by visitors and tourists from the rest of the UK, and all over the world.
That is why the Welsh Labour Government should immediately drop this proposal, and instead make sure that the Natural Resources Wales plays a full part in delivering the AONB Action Plan.
We the undersigned call on the Welsh Labour Government to keep the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status for Gower.