The Society believes that much more of the Mendip Hills deserves designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty than was accepted by the Countryside Commission in 1972.
Understanding that countryside must be of outstanding quality at the national level in order to qualify, the Society considers that these areas should be included:
- Steep Holm (an island in the Bristol Channel)
- Brean Down and Uphill Down
- Nempnett Thrubwell
- the Mendip plateau between Chewton Mendip, Shepton Mallet, Stretton on the Fosse and
- Leigh on Mendip
- the Sheppey Valley east of Wells
- Beacon Hill, Maesbury and Cranmore Tower
- the Mells Valley system from Nettlebridge to Vallis Vale.
Whilst designation is now the responsibility of DEFRA and has to be confirmed by the Secretary of State, further AONB designations are not amongst the Governments priorities. However, the Government may act if the local authorities were to present a convincing case backed up by evidence of local consensus.
Most of the extension area falls within Mendip District Council’s area, and the Council has resolved at least twice in the last 12 years to seek designation, but has not pressed a locally supported case. On 18th March 2005 the Mendip Hills AONB Partnership agreed to support a review of the Mendip Hills AONB boundary but the AONB Manager has since declined to support the idea.
The Society was invited to prepare a case to the Countryside Agency by 1st April 2005 for the extensions outlined above. This was submitted and a copy of the document is available for download. To this date we are still waiting for a decision from Government if they are going to consider proposals to extend any of the AONB's nationally.
To find out more and support the case for the extension of the AONB plcese contact the Society.