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Help shape the future of the Kent Downs AONB

You have the opportunity to help shape the future of some of the most enchanting countryside in Britain – the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Kent Downs AONB Draft Management Plan 2020-2025 is available for public consultation from 14 July - 7 September, giving you the chance to comment before it is finalised and published. Once implemented, it will provide the strategy for conserving and enhancing this nationally protected landscape.

The Kent Downs AONB is home to dramatic views, vibrant communities, a rich historic and cultural heritage, and diverse wildlife and habitats.  Your views will help us conserve the landscape for future generations while ensuring that today’s residents and visitors can all benefit from connection with the natural environment in an amazing landscape.

Take part in the consultation

Chris Reynolds, Chairman of the Kent Downs AONB Unit, said: “We are very pleased to put forward for public consultation our plans for the next five years in the Kent Downs as part of a longer-term vision for the next 20 years.

“We have engaged widely and tried to foresee some of the effects that ongoing climate change may have as well as the eventual implementation of the recent Protected Landscape Review.

“The Draft Plan was prepared before the Covid-19 pandemic and it will be vital we consider how it responds to the crisis. The consultation provides an opportunity for people to tell us any key considerations they feel we should take into account.

“There are also major changes ahead for the way that farming is rewarded for ‘public good’ which inevitably will lead to changes in land use and therefore the rich tapestry of our countryside.”

Nick Johannsen, Director of the Kent Downs AONB Unit, said: “We have had management plans in place for the Kent Downs AONB since 2004, this is the latest revision. The previous plans have been enormously influential, driving millions of pounds of positive investment in the AONB and often influential in developing policy and decisions for the Kent Downs

“I would like to thank all of the individuals and organisations who helped us prepare this draft; from the National Farmers’ Union to the Mind charity, and from English Heritage to local small businesses, climate experts to community representatives hundreds of people have been involved.

“We now encourage everyone to take part in this consultation so that we can ensure we get the final plan as good as it could be and we can continue to conserve and enhance the wonderful and internationally significant landscapes of the Kent Downs.”

Susan Carey, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Environment, added: “Kent is fortunate to have the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It benefits us all and will play an increasingly important role in coping with climate change.  I hope people will take the time to read the draft management plan and let the Kent Downs AONB partnership know their views.”

Highlights

The Management Draft Plan aims to conserve and enhance the landscape through:

    • Building climate resilience, mitigating climate change, and helping to achieving net carbon zero
    • Nature recovery and biodiversity enhancements
    • Sustainable development – supporting our social, economic and environmental needs whist protecting the needs of future generations
    • Access and inclusivity – helping more people enjoy the landscape including more people from currently underrepresented groups in a way that benefits people, protects nature, and enables the management of the landscape to continue successfully
    • Supporting health and wellbeing for all.
05 Biodiversity

How did we write the Draft Plan?

The draft plan has been in development for two years and is the result of working with partner agencies and listening to communities:

  • 1,000+ people told us what was important to them
  • 50 partners and our Joint Advisory Committee gathered data and shared expertise. Partners included Countryside Partnerships, the Country Parks teams and Public Rights of Way Officers, local authorities, the Kent Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, the National Trust, Plantlife, and Butterfly Conservation.
  • 878 square kilometres of hills, woods, rivers, coast, chalk grassland, and pastures were surveyed and assessed to create the accompanying Landscape Character Assessment which details what is special about each of the 13 unique areas within the Kent Downs AONB.

The consultation is open until 7th September 2020. Following the consultation, the Kent Downs AONB Unit will publish a report summarising responses and the Management Plan will be finalised and published later in 2020.

Take part in the consultation