Fringe Box



Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are Rebranded

Published on: 27 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 28 Nov, 2023

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England and Wales have become National Landscapes, including the “Surrey Hills National Landscape”.

According to Surrey County Council: “…the new name reflects the national importance of the areas, the vital contribution they make to protect the nation from the threats of climate change, nature depletion and the wellbeing crisis, whilst also creating greater understanding and awareness for the work that they do”.

The Surrey Hills covers around a quarter of Surrey, the most wooded county in England, and is situated within the London Metropolitan Greenbelt with 1.5 million people living within 10km of the designated landscape.

See also: Letter: Name Change – Something to Like, Something to Worry About

Kathy Atkinson, chair of the Surrey Hills National Landscape, says: “There’s often a healthy scepticism around talk of ‘re-branding’ and people might reasonably ask, ‘What’s the point?’ in calling the Surrey Hills a National Landscape instead of an ‘AONB’.

“First, the legal status of the Surrey Hills as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is unchanged. This amazing area retains the same protections in law as a National Park.”

Ms Atkinson explained that the name change was recommended in a review conducted in 2019, which opined that AONBs were fragmented, misunderstood. The review said that not only would a renaming further empower the brand it would lead to a strengthened network, with increased funding, governance reform, and new shared purposes to help the fight against the challenges protected landscapes may face.

She continued: “We need to use this rebrand as a step change to how we connect with our protected landscapes; and to excite and engage the widest possible public in the task of protecting the Surrey Hills, a cherished landscape that is under threat like never before. This is a critical decade for our natural world, and National Landscapes brings the opportunity to collectively reduce the impact of substantial threats from a National and localised perspective.”

Cllr Marisa Heath

Marisa Heath, Surrey County Council Cabinet member for Environment (Con), said: “We are committed to restoring our natural spaces in Surrey and are already doing so much to help wildlife and eco-systems thrive and sustain biodiversity.

“Here in Surrey, we embrace this national change which we hope reflects a vision to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Cllr Patrick Oven

But Patrick Oven, leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group at Guildford Borough Council, was less certain about the merits of the change: “I don’t understand why the government is wasting powder and shot on such a rebranding. Sounds like a glib marketing exercise.

“I think most people knew what AONB stood for – or at least those who had any interest did.  When the designation name is written in full it is clear what the areas are – far more so than is implied by ‘National Landscape’ in my view. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Share This Post

Responses to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are Rebranded

  1. Peta Malthouse Reply

    November 27, 2023 at 9:48 am

    I agree with Patrick Oven . The renaming brings hope of some impact but nothing else is proposed to set out what that means. The same legal status remains but apart from the new name nothing has changed.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *