Surrey Hills AONB Boundary Extension
We are delighted by Natural England’s announcement that the review to extend the boundary of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was officially confirmed on 24 June 2021.
Natural England are DEFRA’s advisors on the natural environment and have statutory responsibility for the designation of land as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). In May they informed the Chair of Surrey Hills AONB Board that the boundary review of the Surrey Hills AONB would go ahead. So we were aware that no further lobbying was needed.
Behind the scenes Natural England have been working away with the Surrey Hills AONB team to facilitate engagement with stakeholders in what will be a collaborative exercise. CPRE Surrey will be able to constructively engage once the landscape consultants have been appointed, which won’t be before September as DEFRA’s procurement process takes its time. CPRE volunteers in the five districts within the AONB – Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead, Tandridge, Waverley and Guildford will be able to get involved taking our cues from the AONB team.
The key criteria under consideration are whether a landscape has outstanding natural beauty, whether it is desirable to designate and include an area in the AONB for its conservation and enhancement of its natural beauty, and where the extended boundary should be drawn. Natural England will consult with the county council and those district councils affected by proposed boundary variations, followed by a full public consultation.
Natural England will eventually submit an Order extending the boundary of an AONB to the Secretary of State for confirmation. The AONB Board are keen to streamline the process, bearing in mind that the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Boundary extension took years to complete. Even once their Order was submitted in 2019 it took DEFRA a further year to confirm the extension in July 2020.
However, the result for Surrey’s countryside will be worth the wait with a higher proportion (currently 25%) protected for conservation as a Nationally Important Landscape.
If you want more information then download the Surrey Hills Boundary Review Report dated 22 June 2021.