COUNTRYSIDE chiefs are pushing ahead with plans to extend the Clwydian Range area of outstanding natural beauty.

At a meeting this week the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) agreed to take the next step to include the Vale of Llangollen and parts of the Dee Valley, with the backing of Wrexham and Denbighshire councils.

The CCW also pledged that officers would carry out detailed work to consider the inclusion of the Ceiriog Valley, not just the Chirk Castle area as originally suggested.

Morgan Parry, CCW chairman, said: “The AONB designation has brought real benefits to other areas designated for their outstanding landscape.

“With national recognition comes an opportunity to better co-ordinate the sustainable management of the area and the potential for attracting funding to help communities, businesses and landowners care for the land and pressures on it.”

During a four-month consultation, which came to a close on January 31, CCW received 314 responses from individuals, voluntary organisations, businesses and statutory bodies who supported the move.

But concerns were raised about the potential impact on land management practices and whether to include the controversial southern boundary in the Ceiriog Valley.

In response the CCW order seeks to allay some of these fears.

It says: “AONB designation does not interfere with land management practices and designation does not bring about new restrictions on agricultural activities.

“Rules relating to regulations such as pollution control and waste permits are the same inside and outside an AONB.

“CCW wishes to help sustain a thriving, living landscape, which adapts to contemporary pressures and economies, and considers that designating the area as an AONB will help achieve this aim without inhibiting agricultural and rural land use development.”

The order will be made public this week when boundary maps will be available to view at libraries.

But the proposal will not come into effect until it is confirmed by the Welsh Assembly Government after a decision on designation is made by environment minister Jane Davidson.