Position Statement regarding AONB designation for the Forest of Dean

10 June 2018

Position Statement regarding AONB designation for the Forest of Dean

Protecting valuable wildlife habitats in the Forest of Dean against the pressure of development is of key importance to the Forest of Dean Green Party.
We question the effectiveness of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation in providing adequate protection* and have concerns that the gentrification effect may deter innovative sustainable development.
Natural England is supposed to consider the case of the Forest of Dean for designation as an AONB at some point in the future, though the reduction in staffing at Natural England and the current review of AONB / National Park designations under the Government’s 25 year plan may delay this indefinitely.
In the meantime, the Forest of Dean Green Party is investigating the exciting possibility of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve protection.
Biosphere Reserve protection puts the local community in the driving seat and through the use of zones, the valuable areas can be effectively protected while appropriate sustainable development can be encouraged in adjoining areas. Rather than preserving a landscape based on an ideal of aesthetic beauty, Biosphere Reserves are maintained by the use of research and monitoring to ensure sustainable development policies and practices.
The initial response regarding whether an area will be considered should be received within a relatively short time. In the meantime we will be disseminating information about Biosphere Reserves for those that are interested in more than a picture postcard landscape.
* Examples of inappropriate development on AONBs:
In September 2007, government approval was given for the development of a new football ground, the Falmer Stadium, for Brighton & Hove Albion within the boundaries of the Sussex Downs AONB, after a fierce fight by conservationists.
During 2008-2011 a relief road scheme was built through the Dorset AONB near Weymouth in a development that was likened to "an act of environmental vandalism," as ancient forests were removed.
April 2018

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