Councillors representing Wolds Weighton are giving their total support to East Riding’s bid to have the Yorkshire Wolds granted Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status. Councillors Leo Hammond, Mike Stathers and David Rudd believe that if the bid is successful it would bring huge benefits to the area in terms of tourism, lifestyle and economy.
Their Wolds Weighton Ward consists of 28 parishes, ranging from small villages such as Londesborough to the town of Market Weighton and covers a large part of the Wolds. East Riding Council wants to see the Wolds recognised as part of the Government’s 2020 pledge to increase the number of AONBs and National Parks across England. AONBs were introduced in 1949 to protect designated exceptional landscapes, whose distinctive character and natural beauty are precious enough to safeguard them from over development. There are currently 46 AONBs across the UK and the hope of local Councillors is that the Wolds will become the 47th.
Councillor Hammond said the benefits of AONB status were “two-fold, protecting the environment, whilst supporting the economy. He added: "AONB status allows for much greater protection in terms of long-term conservation and most importantly enhancement of our beautiful natural environment and heritage”. “This fits in with the Council's green agenda to tackle climate change and will benefit all residents by protecting the precious landscapes and character of the area we so greatly respect and have the privilege to call home from over development and the wrong type of development.”
Councillor Stathers, who is also the Council's Deputy Leader, said: “On being elected to ERYC in 2015, I made a commitment to do everything in my power to protect our smaller, rural communities, protecting their environment while encouraging controlled economic growth. Traditionally, AONB status comes with an increase in tourism, which is key for our East Riding economy and employment”. “If this prestigious status is secured, I would expect it to bring more customers, more visitors, more business for our shops in Market Weighton, our holiday facilities in our rural communities such as Bishop Wilton and our local hospitality sector". “In the post-Covid world, tourism will play a major part in re-invigorating the East Riding economy, so there is no better time than now to award the Wolds its AONB status”.
Natural England has the final decision and has confirmed that East Riding's bid has been registered and hopes to begin the review process later this year. Councillor Hammond concluded: “We know our area is beautiful, we know our area is unique; after 70 years it’s now time for Natural England to recognise that too and help us conserve our amazing heritage and expand our rural economy by granting us AONB status”.