A COMMUNITY is divided after controversial plans to extend an area of outstanding natural beauty cleared another hurdle.

The Countryside Council for Wales has decided to apply to the Welsh Assembly Government for an extension of the Clwydian Range AONB to include Esclusham, Ruabon and Llantysilio Mountains, the Vale of Llangollen and the Dee Valley.

The Chirk and Ceiriog Valley Partnership backs the move but members of the National Farmers Union fear it will have a negative impact on their livelihoods.

David Cooper, chairman of the Partnership, said: “The CCW has made the right decision which will benefit all who live in the designated area.

“It will enhance the area and encourage investment which will filter down through every aspect of the community.”

And Christine Ashford, of the Partnership, added: “This whole exercise has generated a great deal of interest and there has been considerable support from the Ceiriog Valley, its businesses and community.

“We congratulate all areas now included in the extension and thank all our campaign team and supporters who’ve worked extremely hard to ensure the Ceiriog Valley is recognised not just as an area of outstanding beauty but a community steeped in history, culture, the Welsh language and a community that richly deserves the accolade.”

However, the Partnership has vowed to continue pushing for a further extension to include the rest of the Ceiriog Valley and Y Berwyn.

But Eifion Davies, farmer and NFU chairman Glyn Ceiriog, claims the farmers’ voice was never taken seriously despite a protest which saw more than twenty farmers park their trailers and tractors outside Llangollen Pavilion at the meeting earlier this week.

He said: “We are very disappointed. There were more than thirty people who came through against the proposal but it made no difference. The CCW may as well have saved itself the £100,000 it spent on public consultation and just made its decision at the beginning.”

The final decision on whether to grant the extension will be made by the Welsh Assembly Government’s minister for environment.