High Weald

Nearly 70 years after the country’s National Parks were first established, the government is currently looking at whether the protections for AONBs and National Parks are still fit for purpose; in particular, what might be done better, what changes will help and if the definitions and systems in place are still valid.

Cows landscape

The review will explore how access to these beloved landscapes can be improved, how those who live and work in them can be better supported, and their role in growing the rural economy.

Undertaking a review is one of the key commitments of Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which was launched by Michael Gove earlier this year. The Plan outlines the government’s vision for improving the environment over a generation by connecting people with nature and helping wildlife to thrive.

Julian Glover, associate editor at the London Evening Standard, is leading the review, supported by an experienced advisory group:

  • Lord Cameron of Dillington - Cross-bench peer, farmer and landowner
  • Jim Dixon - former Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park Authority
  • Sarah Mukherjee - Former BBC environment and rural affairs correspondent. Currently Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association
  • Dame Fiona Reynolds - Formerly the Director-General of the National Trust and current Chair of the Green Alliance
  • Jake Fiennes - General Manager for Conservation at the 25,000-acre Holkham Estate.


NAAONB Chairman, Philip Hygate, said: “The National Association for AONBs is delighted to support this exciting review and we will work closely with Julian Glover and his review panel to help ensure that all of England’s special landscapes are equally recognised for the value they provide to the nation, and their fundamental importance to future generations.

“We believe that, together, we can achieve the Secretary of State’s vision of a thriving agriculture sector, a healthy rural economy, beautiful landscapes, rich habitats for wild life, a just society and a fair economy”.

What happens next?

This autumn (2018), the panel will be seeking views and evidence in a public call for evidence. Further details will be published in due course, and we will be encouraging everyone who cares about the High Weald to feed into this process when appropriate.

The review panel is expected to report back to government in 2019. More details will be published on this page when available; please subscribe to our High Weald AONB eNews to receive updates.

Read more about the Government Review of AONBS & National Parks
Read more about Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan