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Anglesey’s draft plan highlights challenges of managing tourism

Anglesey County Council

A DOCUMENT which highlights the “challenges” of managing ‘over tourism” and other issues which impact the beauty and special nature of Anglesey has been approved.

A new draft AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) management plan has been developed as part of efforts to maintain and protect the island’s “special” qualities.

The Anglesey County Council executive resolved to approve and support the draft AONB Management Plan (2023-28) for public consultation, on Tuesday, April 25.

It also  confirmed the Executive’s updated Forward Work Programme for the period May to December, 2023, with changes, agreed the draft Anglesey Town Centres Improvement Strategy as a basis for public consultation,  approved and supported the draft Destination Management Plan (2023-28) also for consultation with key stakeholders.

The AONB draft plan – in line with Natural Resources Wales guidelines – identifies  actions required to protect the island.

The plan notes the  association between Anglesey AONB’s landscape and seascape as one of its “key defining features.”

It noted it had a ”natural beauty” and “sense of tranquillity” that provides it with “special qualities that set it apart from mainland Wales.”

It has been “a popular tourist destination for generations”.

But “pressures for development and the need to protect its natural and historic features were described as “challenges for the AONB’s management”.

There is a statutory duty on the local authority to formally review its  AONB plan every five years – but the latest plan is three years late due to the Covid pandemic.

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Christian Branch, Head of Regulation & Economic Development Service, apologised at the meeting.

But he told the executive the delay had given the service “an opportunity to make sure the content and priorities were appropriate and reflected current opportunities and challenges.”

In his first address, as new portfolio holder for Leisure, Tourism and Maritime, Cllr Neville Evans said it was “a pleasure” to present the new plan, which was “more accessible”.

“It is a comprehensive, very detailed  plan which highlights the special nature of the AONB,” he said.

“It identifies challenges which faces us, in the area of AONB, as result of tourism , over tourism or inappropriate tourism, and its effect on communities’ resilience and nature.”

The AONB status he said, drew down “significant funding” to the island and the service.

He added the AONB management plan had an important link to the council’s Destination Management Plan.

Aims include ensuring the “special qualities and communities of the island  at the heart of the tourism will not be adversely impacted”.

The council hoped the public and stakeholders will share opinions on the 150 page document during a six week public consultation.

Cllr Gary Pritchard noted the three papers before the executive meeting, were all “important and related.”

He said, the AONB was a “a major reason Anglesey  attracts so many visitors – but we need to be careful we don’t spoil Anglesey with over tourism, it needs to be sustainable”.

Cllr Llinos Medi said it was “important to note, the draft plan was just starting on its journey”.

Officers wanted to protect the AONB but she said “we also need to acknowledge the challenges.”

She called on the public and stakeholders to respond to the consultation.

After consultation, the council will look at an action plan to protect the AONB.