John Graham, of Woodleigh, Kingsbridge, writes:
In your article on the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, Gazette, December 16, you quote Cllr Hopgood as saying that planning authorities are ‘constrained completely’ by the National Planning Policy Framework. If only that were true.
There cannot be much doubt that some of South Hams Council’s recent approvals of significant developments in the AONB have been contrary to the NPPF, but it is very hard to challenge them or even to get them examined retrospectively.
So it is up to us to get our councillors to understand the NPPF and then to abide by it.
But it is not just on planning that we need to be more supportive of the AONB. If we took as much pride in our landscape as we should, we would be much less tolerant of other things that disfigure it, such as litter, trashed verges, light pollution, bad road furniture and dirty, scrappy and excessive signage.
It is the job of the AONB Partnership, which will receive well over £150,000 of public money this year, to proclaim the importance of looking after AONBs. The first line of its purpose, as defined in its constitution, is to ‘provide a strategic lead in the protection, conservation and enhancement of the South Devon AONB’.
Having observed many of its meetings, I wholeheartedly agree with your contributor Keith Turner’s impression of ‘a succession of representatives of local and regional publicly funded bodies voicing opinions to defend their turf’.
If the AONB looks as good in 50 years’ time as it does now, it will mainly be because of the support and actions of local residents. Rather than perpetually chasing funding, partnership members need first to increase their own knowledge of the AONB, and then to come together to inspire and empower the people who live in the 30 or so parishes that are wholly or partly within it.