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Funding boost for national parks, AONBs and footpaths

Words: Roger Milne

The Welsh Government has unveiled a tranche of funding for projects designed to improve access to the countryside and boost the sustainability of national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs).

Deputy minister for housing and local government, Hannah Blythyn, announced this week that the parks and AONBs have been awarded £4.7 million for investment in green infrastructure such as electric vehicles, retrofitting existing buildings with energy-efficiency measures, and restoring peatland and woodlands.

And £100,000 has been allocated to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority to foster a closer working relationship across all the designated landscapes in Wales. This will help to ensure that national parks and AONBs are able to develop more joined-up approaches to the challenges and opportunities they have in common.

A further £1.76 million is going local authorities to improve Wales’s network of footpaths and bridleways, making them easier to use and more accessible.

In addition, £337,000 will bankroll 11 projects to improve recreational access to water while  £309,000 will be spent on community orchards and allotments to support community growing projects.

The deputy minister made the announcement during a visit to Moel Famau, in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, which is set to benefit from £180,000 from this programme to ease traffic congestion, carry out remedial work to address erosion to paths and surrounding land and reduce light pollution. An additional £54,000 has also been allocated to Denbighshire County Council to upgrade its network of footpaths and bridleways.

Blythyn said: “Our national parks and AONBs cover a quarter of Wales and are hugely important in helping to tackle the loss of biodiversity and attract millions  of visitors each year.  But access to local green spaces proved just as important during lockdown and this funding demonstrates that we greatly value our local footpaths and other rights of way.”

Image credit | Welsh Government