Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty expansion proposed
The Surrey Hills AONB stretches across a quarter of the county of Surrey and includes the chalk slopes of the North Downs from Farnham in the west to Oxted in the east and extends south to the deeply wooded Greensand Hills which rise in Haslemere. An extension to the boundary would give greater access to the natural environment, particularly for that portion of the population living in and around London (due to its proximity).
The plan includes a renewed drive to support nature recovery within protected landscapes, working with local authorities and the teams operating National Parks and AONBs, as well as efforts to enable more people to benefit from access to England’s natural landscapes. It also includes options to strengthen the status and support given to AONBs.
If approved, the Government will consult on proposals in 2022 to ensure that plans are developed in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders, including National Park Authorities and local authorities.
Under the proposal, three other areas – the Chilterns, Cheshire Sandstone Ridge and Yorkshire Wolds – would also be considered for greater protection. The Chilterns would be considered for expansion while Yorkshire Wolds and Cheshire Sandstone Ridge would be considered for AONB status designation. If fully approved, the proposal has the potential to deliver over 40% of the additional 4,000 square kilometres required to meet the UK’s commitment to protect 30% of its land by 2030.
This supports Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution, designating more national landscapes as the country strives to build back greener after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposals follow an independent review led by Julian Glover, which called for action to make the country's protected landscapes greener, more beautiful and open to everyone. Natural England welcomed the review, which set out a compelling vision for more beautiful, biodiverse and accessible National Parks and AONBs.