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Consultants sought for new north-east Wales national park project

North East Wales National Park Proposal (Pic: NRW)

CONSULTANTS are being sought to help map out a new national park in north-east Wales.

The Welsh Government is looking to create a new national park based around the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, which is already designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

If the plans go ahead, it would become the fourth national park in Wales alongside Eryri (Snowdonia), the Pembrokeshire Coast and Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons).

Draft plans showing areas which could be covered were revealed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in October last year, including parts of Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham and Powys.

The pledge to establish Wales’ first new national park since 1957 formed part of Welsh Labour’s manifesto at the last Senedd election in 2021.

NRW has been tasked by ministers with evaluating the case for the new park and is now looking to appoint consultants to carry out an in-depth assessment of the areas proposed for inclusion.

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In a tender notice published on the Sell2Wales website, the Welsh environment body said: “NRW wish to commission a suitably skilled and experienced consultant to undertake detailed technical assessments to identify evaluation and candidate areas for a potential national park.

“The consultant will be required to identify evaluation areas as sub-divisions of the area of search to provide a more manageable scale for evaluation of the area in question.

“The consultant will be required to evaluate each evaluation area for natural beauty in accordance with NRW’s procedural guidance on assessing land for designation and the natural beauty criterion set out in the guidance.

“The consultant will also be required to evaluate each evaluation area as to whether it affords sufficient opportunities for outdoor recreation according to the criteria set out in the procedural guidance.”

The successful bidder will also be required to provide a summary of their findings, including a detailed draft boundary of the area for the new national park.

NRW has already held several consultation events into the proposals, with an early map including locations such as Gronant Dunes, Hope Mountain, the Ceiriog Valley and Lake Vyrnwy.

Although officials have stressed that a final map has yet to be confirmed, councillors in Powys have voiced their opposition against the county’s inclusion.

It came as one leading councillor claimed there had been a “complete failure” to explain the park’s benefits.

Concerns have also been raised over whether landmarks such as Moel Famau have the right facilities in place to cope with a surge in visitors.

Setting out the timeline for the plans in September last year, NRW project manager Ash Pearce said: “There will be a full consultation on a proposed boundary map in 2024 when we have completed our assessments and refined the map.

“At this stage the map simply defines the area to focus our assessment work, we are interested in listening to and understanding all stakeholders’ points of view.”

A deadline of March 15 has been set for consultants to bid to carry out the detailed assessment work.

It’s expected the new national park will be designated by 2026 if a successful case is made, with the Welsh Government responsible for making the final decision.

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