Review of the Management Plan
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW Act) 2000 (sections 89 and 90) created a statutory responsibility for Local Authorities to act jointly to prepare, adopt and subsequently review AONB Management Plans at intervals of not more than five years. The Countryside Agency has issued guidance for the review of AONB Management Plans (CCA 221); this is expected to be supplemented by further advice from Defra.The statutory timetable requires that the review of the Kent Downs AONB management plan must be completed, and adopted by each Local Authority by the end of March 2014 and the timetable for the review means that review work started in 2012.
Key elements of the Kent Downs AONB management plan review
Natural England has been clear and consistent in its view that the existing Kent Downs management plan represents exemplary practice and therefore much of the existing plan is expected to stand. That being said there are considerable changes in the context in which the plan operates, this includes new legislation and government and other agendas such as the Marine Act, Equalities Acts, Climate Change Act, Natural Environment White Paper and, of course the new National Planning Policy Framework.
Key areas of work identified by the Unit for the management plan revision include:
- Reporting the changes in context and reviewing and updating the plan and its policies to reflect what has changed.
- Reviewing and updating the plan and its policies to reflect what has been achieved, the current circumstances and likely future scenarios.
- Monitoring and reporting on the state of the Kent Downs AONB.
- Revising and testing policies in the plan.
- The status of the plan requires that we carry out a Strategic Environmental Appraisal (SEA) an Equalities Impact Assessment and Appropriate Assessment (AA); in addition we plan to carry out a Sustainability appraisal (SA) to ensure that we cover social and economic as well as environmental issues.
- Carrying out a wide and inclusive engagement and consultation process.
- Consider more fully the implications of climate change. Ensure that the process carried out enables the reviewed management plan to be adopted within Local Authority Local Development Frameworks as recommended in the Countryside Agency Guidance.
- Integrate the current and provide a mechanism to include future guidance documents so that they are afforded the same weight and influence as the management plan itself.
Stage 1: Review existing plan – with partners and stakeholders, consider the existing management plan and propose areas for review, also carry out monitoring to report on the current state of the AONB and to report trends and new priorities – this is proposed to be carried out between May and autumn 2012. A review report will be taken to the Autumn JAC meeting.
Stage 2: Make draft revisions – on the basis of the information gathered in the review stage, a draft management plan revision will be published – this is expected to be confirmed for consultation at the spring 2013 JAC.
Stage 3: Consultation – Consult on the draft management plan – this will be carried out in the spring/ summer of 2013 and a revised draft will be prepared for the autumn 2013 JAC.
Stage 4 : Confirmation and adoption – Finalise management plan and take through formal adoption stage at each local authority, publication and deposit with Secretary of State by April 2014 (as set by the statutory timetable). We will allow 6 months for adoption and publication.
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