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Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England (AONB) is an area in England specially designated by the Countryside Agency. There are also AONBs in Wales and Northern Ireland

The rough equivalent for Scotland is the National Scenic Area designated by Scottish Natural Heritage. With the advent of devolved government for Scotland, policy and management of these areas may well differ from the situation in England.

AONBs are comparable to National parks. However, the latter have their own authorities, have special legal powers to prevent unsympathetic development, and are well known to many inhabitants of England and Wales.

By contrast, many people living in an AONB do not even realise this. There are also very limited statutory duties on local authorities to do anything in an AONB.

However, the Whitehall Government has recently said that it accepts that AONBs and National Parks should have equal status when it comes to planning consent and other sensitive issues.

AONBs vary greatly in terms of size, type and use of land, whether they are partly or wholly open to the public. Some local councils have AONB officers and other dedicated staff, others do not.

There are 36 AONBs in England. The most recent one to be set up was the Tamar Valley AONB[?] in 1994. The smallest AONB is the Isles of Scilly (1976), 16 sq. km. The largest AONB is the Cotswolds (1966), 2,038 sq km.

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