Natural England is today announcing that the Yorkshire Wolds is to be considered for status as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Securing this designation would allow the area to benefit from greater protections, so that more of England's beautiful landscapes are safeguarded for future generations.
The Yorkshire Wolds forms an arc of high, gently rolling hills extending from the Humber Estuary west of Hull, to the North Sea coast at Flamborough Head, north of Bridlington. It is known for steep sided dry dales, high but gentle escarpments, dramatic coastal cliffs, and open, rolling plateaus. The area is predominantly agricultural, creating an open, rolling landscape. Habitats include ancient woodland, chalk streams and maritime cliffs and slopes, all providing a high quality wildlife resource.
Three other areas, The Cheshire Sandstone Ridge, Surrey Hills and the Chilterns will be considered for greater protections, with potential to deliver over 40% of the additional 4,000km2 required to meet the UK's commitment to protect 30% of our land by 2030.
Paul Duncan, area director for Natural England, said: "The Yorkshire Wolds is a tranquil landscape of rolling hills, valleys and open plateaux interspersed with ancient woodland, chalk streams, farm holdings and historic villages, extending north from the River Humber.
"The announcement that the Yorkshire Wolds may become one of our newest Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is fantastic news for Yorkshire and North East England.
"If successful the Yorkshire Wolds would join the Nidderdale and Howardian Hills AONB in celebrating, protecting and enhancing Yorkshire's beautiful landscape, helping to bring nature and people closer together'
Cllr Jonathan Owen, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: "Representing a large part of the East Riding encompassing the Yorkshire Wolds, I am proud to support the area being considered for such an outstanding designation. We are blessed with a range of fabulous natural assets from the Wolds to the coast which attracts millions of visitors each year and it is fantastic to see the area, with its outstanding aesthetic beauty, considered for such a significant status."
The proposals follow the independent review led by Julian Glover which called for action to make our protected landscapes greener, more beautiful and open to everyone. Natural England welcomed the Review which set out a compelling vision for more beautiful, biodiverse and accessible National Parks and AONBs.
Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, added: "Today's announcement signals an ambitious step forward in growing our family of precious national landscapes, as well as protecting and improving the ones we have.
"One thing that has become very apparent recently, and especially during the pandemic, is the enormous benefit people get from having access to beautiful nature-rich landscapes. These can, however, be hard for many people to access, thereby raising the question of how more can be done to bring nature and people closer together. On this, we see huge opportunities arising from the establishment of the England Nature Recovery Network, of which wilder national landscapes will be a vital part.
"As Government's statutory landscape adviser, we look forward to continuing to work closely with Government, designated landscape bodies and stakeholders to deliver more for and through England's diverse landscapes."