An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is an area of countryside with significant landscape value in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, that has been specially designated by the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) on behalf of the United Kingdom government; the Countryside Council for Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government; or the Environment and Heritage Service on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive. Rural areas can be large and isolated (also referred to as "the country" and/or "the countryside over the course of time England is a Country which is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population whilst its mainland Northern Ireland (Tuaisceart Éireann Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a Country within the United Kingdom, lying in the northeast of The Countryside Agency in England was a statutory body set up in 1999 with the task of improving the quality of the rural environment and the lives of those living Natural England is a Non-Departmental Public Body of the UK government. Her Majesty's Government, or when the monarch is male His Majesty's Government, is the title used by the Government of the United Kingdom, based at The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru (CCGC is an Assembly Government Sponsored Body The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG (Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru LlCC) was firstly an executive body of the National Assembly for Wales, consisting of The Environment and Heritage Service is a Northern Ireland Executive conservation agency within the Department of the Environment. The Northern Ireland Executive is the executive arm of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved Legislature for Northern Ireland
The primary purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape, with two secondary aims: meeting the need for quiet enjoyment of the countryside and having regard for the interests of those who live and work there. To achieve these aims, AONBs rely on planning controls and practical countryside management. See Development control in the United Kingdom for an explanation of how planning control is exercised in the UK
As they have the same landscape quality, AONBs may be compared to the national parks of England and Wales. The national parks of England and Wales are areas of relatively undeveloped and scenic landscape that are designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 AONBs are created under the same legislation as the national parks, the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. A national park is a reserve of land usually declared and owned by a national Government, protected from most Human development and pollution The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which created the Countryside Commission (which Unlike AONBs, national parks have their own authorities, have special legal powers to prevent unsympathetic development, and are well known to many inhabitants of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. By contrast, there are very limited statutory duties imposed on local authorities within an AONB and there is evidence to indicate many residents in such areas may be unaware of the status. However, further regulation and protection of AONBs was added by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and the Government has recently stated that AONBs and national parks have equal status when it comes to planning consent and other sensitive issues. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 is a UK Act of Parliament which came into force on November 30, 2000.
There are 35 AONBs in England, four in Wales, one (Wye Valley) that is in both England and Wales and nine in Northern Ireland. The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB is an internationally important protected landscape straddling the border between England and Wales. The most recently confirmed is the Tamar Valley AONB in 1994. The Tamar is a River in south western England, that forms most of the border between Devon (to the east and Cornwall (to the west AONBs vary greatly in terms of size, type and use of land, whether they are partly or wholly open to the public. All English and Welsh AONBs have a dedicated AONB officer and other staff. The smallest AONB is the Isles of Scilly (1976), 16 km², and the largest AONB is the Cotswolds (1966), 2,038 km². See also Cotswold The Cotswolds is a range of Hills in west-central England, sometimes called the "Heart of England" The AONBs of England and Wales together cover around 18% of the countryside in the two countries. The National Association for AONBs is an independent organisation acting on behalf of AONBs and their partners.
There are growing concerns among environmental and countryside groups that AONB status is increasingly under threat from development. The Campaign to Protect Rural England said in July 2006 that many AONBs were under greater threat than ever before. The Campaign to Protect Rural England ( CPRE) is a registered charity with over 60000 members and supporters  Three particular sites were cited: the Dorset AONB threatened by a road plan, the threat of a football stadium in the Sussex Downs AONB, and, larger than any other, a £1 billion plan by Imperial College to build thousands of houses and offices on hundreds of acres of AONB land on the Kent Downs at Wye. Imperial College London (officially The Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine as given in its Royal Charter It is one of only three universities to have reached  Imperial College have now withdrawn their plans for development, seemingly to the disappointment of both Ashford Borough and Kent County councils (September 2006). In September 2007 Government approval was finally given for the development of a new football ground for Brighton and Hove Albion within the boundaries of the Sussex Downs AONB, after a fierce fight by conservationists. It has since been announced there will be no further appeals against this decision, and building work is expected to commence in late 2008/early 2009.
The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 does not cover Scotland. The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which created the Countryside Commission (which Scotland ( Gaelic: Alba) is a Country in northwest Europethat occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain. Instead Scotland has National Scenic Areas. National Scenic Area is a Conservation designation specifically for Scotland, administered by Scottish Natural Heritage.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Northern Ireland
|Antrim Coast and Glens | Causeway Coast | Lagan Valley | Lecale Coast | Mourne | Binevenagh | Ring of Gullion | Sperrin | Strangford Lough | Erne Lakeland† | Fermanagh Caveland†|
|Areas marked † are proposed|