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Chilterns AONB Boundary Review

Introduction

The Chilterns Conservation Board has long been committed to working with its stakeholders to explore the case for and against the Chilterns having enhanced status and to review the boundary of the protected area to cover the wider area of the Chilterns landscape that merits it.

In June 2021, we were therefore delighted to welcome Natural England’s announcement of its new Designations Programme, part of which would involve exploring both an extension to the Chilterns AONB and ways in which the management and governance arrangements for the AONB could be enhanced.

How could the review benefit people and the landscape?

The wider Chilterns area is home to many vibrant and growing communities. An extension to the Chilterns AONB would help to protect high-quality natural environments and historic features close to many of these urban areas for future generations to enjoy. The designation can help us and our partners provide people living in these areas with greater opportunities to access to the countryside, benefit from the tranquillity it provides and get away from the pressures of everyday life.
 
It is equally important for Chilterns’ wildlife and habitats. With its globally rare chalk streams, wildflower-rich chalk grassland and prehistoric settlements - including Bronze and Iron Age hillforts -  reviewing the boundaries of the AONB provides opportunities for a more strategic approach to caring for the special features of the Chilterns’ that are currently outside the protected area. 

Next steps

The boundary review project is being run by Natural England. They expect to begin work later in 2022, which will start with commissioning consultants to assess currently undesignated areas around the Chilterns AONB for inclusion within the protected landscape, and will include opportunities for public engagement.

The Chilterns Conservation Board is one of many stakeholders assisting Natural England with its work, and one of our key roles is to host this information on our website and assist with keeping people informed. We will publish more details as soon as they are available.

For more information about the boundary review process, please read these Frequently Asked Questions. If you cannot find the information you require in that document, please contact Natural England directly by emailing ChilternsAONBBoundaryReview@NaturalEngland.org.uk 

What else do we hope will be achieved? 

Adding new land to the Chilterns AONB is only a part of our ambition for the future – we are also working on better ways by which the landscape can be conserved and enhanced. Our current thinking is that the new arrangements will include a partnership approach between the Chilterns Conservation Board, Natural England, our host local authorities and other public, private and voluntary sector organisations working in the Chilterns. This could make the AONB Management Plan, which such bodies already help to develop and sign up to deliver, a more influential tool in coordinating efforts to promote the conservation, enhancement, understanding and enjoyment of the Chilterns landscape, as well as attracting new funding. But we don’t want to be prescriptive about this – it is important that our stakeholders help to create the new approach and have full ownership of it. Watch this space for further details.

The Chilterns AONB boundary review process is led and managed by 

 

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