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National Park and AONB review makes waves

Words: Roger Milne

The Welsh Government has confirmed that the terms of reference and the membership of the independent review panel which will look at the governance and purpose of the country’s national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) will be announced shortly.

However a spokesperson for the administration played down speculation that the review would specifically look whether the planning functions of the three National Park Authorities should be carried out by local councils.

Environment Minister John Griffiths has already made it clear the review will consider the possibility of creating a single type of designation for Wales, which will encompass national parks and AONBs, and consider different governance arrangements that will best deliver their statutory purposes as well as promoting joint working and avoiding duplication.

It will also examine how relationships with local authorities, Visit Wales, Natural Resource Wales, third sector groups and others could be more effective.

Griffiths said: “we need to ensure that our designated landscapes are equipped to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. The legislation creating our designated landscapes is now 75 years old so I will be asking this review body to consider the purposes of our national parks and our areas of outstanding natural beauty.”

However the minister has been circumspect on the contentious issue of National Park Authority planning powers.

Griffiths has stressed that this will initially be determined by the housing and regeneration minister Carl Sargeant as he takes forward work around the planning bill “We are not yet in a position to make an announcement on that." he told Assembly Members recently