The View from the Kent Downs
About a third of the area covered by the Kentish Stour
Countryside Project lies within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding
National Beauty. I was very pleased last year to be nominated as the AONB
representative on the KSCP Steering Group. In 1997 representatives from
the county council, district and parish councils, land-based businesses,
and national agencies set up an AONB Unit, and a joint committee to steer
it. As a member of that committee from the start, I have become very aware
of the vital contribution the KSCP has made and is making to the
achievement of the objectives we have set ourselves, to promote and
enhance that beautiful piece of countryside we know as the Kent Downs.
However, let me emphasise here that my interest in the
Project’s work goes well beyond the boundaries of the AONB. I am aware
of what is being done in the Low Weald and Greensand area in the Ashford
District; and in the Blean, part of the biggest area of woodland in the
county. I am particularly interested in the projects on the Stour itself
in the most sensitive and pressurised areas on the urban fringes of
Ashford and Canterbury.
Yes, I love the Kent Downs, and will do everything I can
to promote knowledge of them, and investment in the conservation and
restoration of their unique features. But it is absolutely not my view
that designation like ‘AONB’ makes the rest of the countryside second
class. In fact I believe we have to be careful to oppose any move to
lessen general protection of the countryside behind a screen of the
undoubted extra funding that has been going into landscapes covered by
national designations. In particular we must resist pressure to do away
with local designations of high landscape worth.
So, I will represent the Kent Downs AONB on the KSCP
committee. At the same time I will adhere strictly to the principle that
steering group members are there to promote the interests of the whole
area covered by the Project.
Martin Vye, KSCP Steering Group Member, AONB Board
Member, Canterbury and County Council Member, and Lord Mayor of Canterbury