You may be aware that the Government’s advisor on the natural environment, Natural England, is running a public consultation to expand the boundaries of four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). These proposals have the potential to deliver over 1600 additional square km of protected land. This is part of the Government’s commitment to protect 30% of our land by 2030 for nature. The boundaries of the Surrey Hills AONB are included in this review and I am delighted that potential candidates for areas of outstanding natural beauty include Farthing Downs, Happy Valley, Coulsdon Common and Riddlesdown.
The Surrey Hills AONB boundary has not been reviewed since its original designation in 1958 and I know that there have been repeated calls by local campaigners to reconsider the boundary. Including parts of our local area in the Surrey Hills AONB could help preserve the natural environment and heritage while providing an opportunity to support people’s health and wellbeing through access to nature. The consultation is considering areas of high scenic quality including chalk grassland, parkland, and historic features.
The first stage of the public consultation is running until 31st January 2022. After this, further field work and evaluation will take place, followed by the identification of candidate areas by June 2022. The Call for Evidence is asking for locations accompanied by a photograph and description of the special qualities of the location, such as the landscape quality and tranquillity, as well as any additional supporting comments. You can read more about the consultation and how to respond by post here: https://www.surrey-hills-aonb-boundary-review.org/discover. If you would like to fill in the consultation online, you can access an online form here: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/896091cc47194e3f99839c84a71cdde0.
This is a fantastic opportunity for our area, and I hope that you take part in the consultation. Please do also forward this to friends and family in our area who may be interested.