Explore Cornwall’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

PUBLISHED: 14:10 03 June 2020

A cow on the coast path between Tintagel to Bossinvey. Photo: Martin Coupe

A cow on the coast path between Tintagel to Bossinvey. Photo: Martin Coupe


Almost a third of Cornwall sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the lockdown has given it time to recover from thousands of visitors

The Camel EstuaryThe Camel Estuary

We may not have been able to venture far afield of late but that doesn’t stop us appreciating what we have on our doorstep or those who work hard to ensure the special qualities of the Cornwall AONB landscape are conserved and enhanced.

Since the end of March, the Cornwall AONB Staff Unit have sensibly been working from their own homes, but this doesn’t mean they have been any less busy with their various projects and keeping things going from both a business and landscape perspective. The Cornwall AONB is not concentrated in one area alone but is divided into 12 separate sections (10 coastal sections and the two inland sections of Bodmin Moor and the Camel Estuary) and covers a total area of 958sq kms which equates to one third of the Cornish Peninsula. It is worth noting that the AONB has the same legal status and planning protection as a National Park.

As I am sure many of you will already know, we are funded by the Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) who provide 75 per cent of our funding with the remaining 25 per cent being met by Cornwall Council who, under Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) has a duty when discharging any function affecting land within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to ‘have regard’ to the purpose of conserving and enhancing natural beauty. Section 89 of the CROW Act also places a statutory duty on Local Planning Authorities with an AONB within their administrative boundaries to produce a Management Plan for the AONB and review it every five years, which is one of the many duties undertaken by the staff of the AONB Unit.

In the final 18 months of the existing Management Plan (2016-2021) the AONB Staff Unit will review the effectiveness of the plan and make any amendments necessary to ensure that the next Management Plan is ‘fit for purpose’ and addresses the issues that affect the management of the AONB in successive years. We all appreciate how external factors are now influencing our everyday existence, issues such as climate change, flooding, developmental pressures, increases in population and most recently the impact of a pandemic on our food and farming nation.

On the way to Porthcurnick Beach, Portscatho Photo: Rebecca WalkerOn the way to Porthcurnick Beach, Portscatho Photo: Rebecca Walker

The purpose of the Management Plan is to provide a framework for the AONB Partnership to plan and implement the management of the Cornwall AONB. The Management Plan is also intended to be a shared strategy that will be of interest to all those operating within, or with an interest in the AONB. The Plan highlights the value and special qualities of the Cornwall AONB and shows communities and partners how their activity contributes to the protected landscape purpose (cornwall-aonb.gov.uk/management-plan).

The overall management of the Cornwall AONB is the responsibility of the Cornwall AONB Partnership which comprises of 22 organisations who meet three times a year to prioritise and discuss activity to implement the Management Plan and issues likely to affect the AONB.

Meet the Cornwall AONB Partnership Members

● Cornwall Agri-Food Council

Blue Waters at Kynance Cove. Photo: Jonathan ReedBlue Waters at Kynance Cove. Photo: Jonathan Reed

● Cornwall Association of Local Councils

● Cornwall Council

● Cornwall Heritage Trust

● Cornwall Rural Community Charity

● Cornwall Sustainable Tourism Project (CoaST)

● Cornwall Wildlife Trust

● Country Land and Business Association

● Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS)

● Historic England

● Environment Agency

● Cornwall & West Devon World Heritage Site (UNESCO)

● Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG)

● Fal River Cornwall

● National Farmers Union

● National Trust

● Natural England

● Rural Cornwall &Isles of Scilly Partnership (RCP)

● University of Exeter in Cornwall

● Visit Cornwall

● Volunteer Cornwall

● West Country Rivers Trust

The AONB Staff Unit exists to administer the partnership, deliver projects, access resources, enable and support partner organisations in the delivery of the Management Plan.

The Cornwall AONB is there for all to enjoy and in these uncertain times it is even more important to protect our special landscapes to ensure they are there for all to enjoy and for the benefits it provides to our health and wellbeing. We must all ensure that future generations are able to continue to enjoy these benefits well into the future.

We hope you have enjoyed your look behind the scenes of the Cornwall AONB and if you would like to find out more, visit cornwall-aonb.org.uk to find further information about what we do or alternatively you can download our App which is available for both android and Apple phones and tablets.

This article first appeared in our May 2020 issue of Cornwall Life

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