Everyone interested in how we manage our countryside will have noted the national and local coverage last weekend about the Cotswolds, one of this country’s largest protected landscapes, potentially being re-designated from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to a National Park.

This was a recommendation of the Glover Review into protected landscapes that was published in 2019 and on which the government has yet to fully respond. Quite why the recent flurry of press activity has arisen, we don’t know, but it’s interesting to see some early reactions.

The Cotswolds National Landscape is currently a designated AONB covering 790 sq. miles and looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, a statutory body which supports the outcomes of the Glover Review – but recognises that any such re-designation is by no means straightforward, and will involve considerable debate over some time.

The important thing is to have just that debate and not immediately spring to firm opinions or conclusions derived from early press articles. The Cotswolds is a high quality landscape that needs the best possible protection to ensure the right balance between landscape, nature conservation, farming productivity, economic development and most importantly, people - both those who live and work here and those who seek to visit.

How we get this right is a challenge we all face.

Brendan McCarthy

Chairman, Cotswolds Conservation Board