Special Environmental Sites and Schemes

13. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

AONBs are considered to be of significant landscape quality and of national as well as local value. The Countryside Agency is responsible for their identification and designation and have developed a range of policies for their management. These provide guidance on planning, management and training. The AONBs are managed as working landscapes and their enhancement and protection is influenced by a large number of organisations and individuals in the private and public sectors. In most AONBs planning and management responsibilities are split between county and district councils and many cross county boundaries. Policies on development attempt to provide careful and selective control, with emphasis on encouraging small scale developments that are in-keeping with the local environment.

There are around 40 AONBs in England and Wales extending to all parts of the country and covering about 20,000 sq. km. Because of their large number and geographic diversity they vary considerably in population, landscape type, ecology etc., requiring a variety of different management approaches. The focus is primarily on protection of the landscape assisted by planning decisions and small scale projects for enhancement and public enjoyment. Careful management is also required to ameliorate recreational pressures which can be higher than those experienced in some national parks.

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