CLA responds to proposed expansions of the Surrey Hills and Chilterns

Government has put forward proposals to create and improve protected landscapes across England
Designation can stifle economic growth, the CLA argues

The Government has put forward its proposals to create and improve protected landscapes across England, including the Surrey Hills and Chilterns.

It plans to extend the boundaries of each. In Surrey it aims to potentially include "areas of high scenic quality including chalk grassland, parkland and historic features adjacent to the existing AONB", while the Chilterns AONB could be expanded to include more "chalk streams, magnificent beechwoods, native woodland and wildflower-rich hills, bringing nature closer to populations in North London".

Responding to this Mark Tufnell, Deputy President of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) which represents 28,000 farmers, land managers and rural businesses across England and Wales, said: “We are behind government’s aims and ambitions to protect and enhance the natural environment and the biodiversity that underpins it.

“But the lack of detail raises more questions than answers on how these ambitions will be achieved. Our main concern is how the government’s commitment to designate additional protected landscapes will be taken forward. This should not be to randomly satisfy a target, but done for the right reasons to protect our finest landscapes.

"Currently, designation stifles economic growth, hampering rural businesses from re-investing in their communities to offer affordable houses and create new jobs. Planning rules often lead to one sector, such as tourism, becoming dominant which makes local economies and communities far more vulnerable to shocks like Covid-19.

“The rural economy is 18% less productive than the national average, and this will only increase if the designation system isn’t reformed to ensure a commitment to economic resilience and sustainable communities.”

For more details of the proposals click here.

What do you think? The CLA is keen to hear your views so we can best represent members. Please email