The Long View needs to be clearer


Taking the Long View, the Welsh Government’s policy statement on protected landscapes, needs to be strengthened and made much clearer if it is to provide a strategic policy framework for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in Wales. That’s the key message from our response to the consultation on the draft statement which closed on 20 September.

This document replaces the previous policy statement for National Parks which was published in 2007 and sets out a vision for the future management of Wales’ designated landscapes and some guiding principles. The majority of the document is devoted to setting out a series of outcomes which identify the contribution that Welsh Government requires designated landscapes to make in addressing the challenges of sustainable development through the delivery of their statutory purposes.

There are aspects of the draft document that we welcome such as the recognition of the importance of the planning system providing special protection for designated landscapes and the emphasis on social inclusion and partnership working. However, in our response we have also highlighted a number of significant omissions and other aspects which need to be amended if the final document is to provide the guidance needed to ensure that protected landscapes fulfil their statutory purposes and contribute to a sustainable Wales. This is very disappointing given the contribution that National Parks and AONBs could make to sustainable development and the ecosystem approach.  Our particular concerns with the document include:

•Insufficient information on the nature and importance of protected landscapes and their special qualities and a lack of clear information on the similarities and differences between National Parks and AONBs.

•A lack of information as to how the principle of sustainable development will integrate with the current statutory purposes of protected landscapes and how this will affect the management of these areas in future.

•No vision of how the special qualities of protected landscapes will be enhanced.

•A lack of clarity about the role of National Parks in the new natural resource management approach and in particular the links between National Park Management Plans and natural resource management planning.

•Insufficient detail about the role of Natural Resources Wales with regard to protected landscapes.

•A lack of outcomes which are specific to protected landscapes rather than of general relevance to rural Wales.

You can read the full response here.