The AONB Partnership is open to everyone who lives and works in the area. It also welcomes visitors to the area and other interested parties, be they individuals, government or non-governmental organisations or an interest group.
The partnership includes:
- Wiltshire Council
- Dorset Council
- Hampshire County Council
- Somerset County Council
- New Forest District Council
- Mendip District Council
- South Somerset District Council
- Natural England
- Forestry Commission
- Campaign to Protect Rural England
- Country Land and Business Association
- National Farmer’s Union
- Wiltshire Association of Town and Parish Councils
- Dorset Association of Town and Parish Councils
The Partnership Board acts as the governing body for the AONB Team, and is chaired by an independent person. It meets twice a year. It guides the implementation of the Management Plan and oversees the specialist Topic Groups that work on the Annual Delivery Plan. A Steering Group provides advice and support to the AONB Team, whose task it is to ensure targets in the Management Plan are met.
Once a year we hold an annual forum that brings together the widest range of interested people to discuss and debate topical issues.
If you or your organisation is interested in being represented on the Partnership Board or attending the Annual Forum, then please contact us.
The primary purpose of AONB designation is the conservation and enhancement of “natural beauty” which, as interpreted by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (the original act under which this AONB was designated), the Countryside Act 1968 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, includes protecting flora, fauna, geology and landscape features. It is also accepted that the conservation of archaeological, architectural and vernacular features is of equal importance.
European Landscape Convention
This was signed by UK Government, and came into force in March 2007. It is a treaty that commits the nation to a proactive approach to including landscapes and landscape issues in policies, management, and training.
Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
This act updates the 1949 Act and requires Local Authorities to put in place AONB Management Plans. This can be undertaken by partnership groups or individual authorities if they wish to work independently. It also provides national resources for local AONB Management Teams and the possibility for setting up Conservation Boards.
It re-states the process of AONB designation as well as providing duties for all holders of public office and public bodies, including statutory undertakers and transport providers, to have regard for the purposes of AONB designation in all their day to day activities.
Duty on Relevant Authorities
Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 places a statutory duty on all relevant authorities to have regard to this purpose. It states that, in exercising or performing any functions in relation to, or so as to affect, land in an AONB, a relevant authority shall have regard to the purpose of the AONB.
Expectations of Relevant Authorities
We expect relevant authorities to be able to demonstrate that they have fulfilled these duties. They must be able to clearly show how they have considered AONB purposes in their decision making and should consider whether they could usefully make reference to the duties in their annual reports. Relevant authorities will also wish to consider issuing their own statement of how they will take account of the purposes of the designated area.
Demonstrations of compliance with the duties will be monitored by the AONB Partnership Board. It is expected that each Statutory Body will include a brief assessment of compliance with the relevant duty in their annual reports or similar publication. The Partnership Board will bring any significant contraventions to the attention of Natural England, who will in turn report to Defra.
The duties do not override particular considerations which have to be taken into account by relevant authorities in carrying out any function, but they are intended to ensure that the purposes for which these areas have been designated are recognised as an essential consideration in reaching decisions or undertaking activities that impact on them.
Natural England is highlighting the work of public bodies, who have taken action to help safeguard protected landscapes. This practical guide outlines the steps that have been taken across the country to look after landscapes, and is aimed at helping organisations who have a statutory duty in respect of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty