The ‘Virtual AONB’ of the Cambrian Mountains and Windfarms

The Cambrian Mountains (and severa smaller areas in wales) were recommended as National Park or AONB by the commission that made recommendations on all National Parks/AONBs in 1948. They were never designated. They were proposed again in 1965, opposition was such, even coming from the Campaign for Protection for Rural Wales, that the Minister dropped it without even an inquiry. Since then campaigners have sought an AONB, though Welsh Ministers have sought to avoid even addressing this issue. The objections though are similar to those to the Cairngorms National Park and North Pennines AONB, which two generations late were eventually designated.

However the key issue in planning terms is the lack of ‘the presumption against major developments’ test – which means no windfarms.

However the welsh government has commissioned a national landscape character assessment for Wales which grades the quality of everywhere. And this was used to ‘pre-assess’ areas for utility scale windfarms, and excludes the Cambrian mountains. So the AONB sort of exists in ghost form in the new Wales National Plan.

Im sure Boris would love the Welsh government to finally declare it as then he could reach almost in one fell swoop his international commitment to designate 30% of the UK as protected. Im sure a side deal could be done as part of the South West Metro connection to Bristol as part of the Hendry review – or somesuch.

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