‘We need a new vision for the Cambrian Mountains to ensure their protection.’ So said Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary, guest speaker at the annual general meeting of the Cambrian Mountains Society in Llandrindod Wells on Saturday (31 October).
‘It is outrageous that these splendid, inspiring landscapes have no overall protection and have to rely on piecemeal landownerships and bitty European designations for their survival. The mountains are part of the unfinished designation business of the 1950s.*
‘The Cambrian Mountains in the heart of Wales should have been designated as a national park in the mid-seventies, but were rejected at the last stage with no explanation. Now is the time to revive the campaign to designate the mountains as an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). They richly deserve this protection.
‘The recent report, National Landscapes: realising their potential, following the review of the designated landscapes in Wales, recognises the value of Wales’s special landscapes to the well-being of residents and visitors. Its publication last week, placing the spotlight on our designated landscapes, provides a valuable impetus for the campaign for an AONB.
‘We congratulate the Elan Valley Trust and its partners on securing Heritage Lottery Funding to safeguard the heritage of the Elan Valley and provide opportunities for people there. The Elan Valley is in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains and this funding will demonstrate how crucial this place is to the culture and well-being of Wales.
‘Now we must forge links all those interested in the unique Cambrian Mountains, and develop our campaign for ensuring that this magnificent area is protected for all time,’ Kate declared.
*The history of the Cambrian Mountains non-designation is as follows.
1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act provided for designation of national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), by the National Parks Commission (NPC).
1965 NPC decided the Cambrian Mountains should be a national park.
1972 The NPC’s successor, the Countryside Commission, made a designation order for the national park, which had to be confirmed by the Secretary of State for Wales. There were objections. The proposed national park extended from near Machynlleth in the north to Llandovery in the south, and Rhayader in the east to Pont-rhyd-y-groes in the west.
1973 The Secretary of State, Peter Thomas, announced he would not confirm the order but said it would be more appropriate for the Cambrian Mountains to be an AONB. This was not pursued until the Cambrian Mountains Society took up the reins in 2005.