COMMUNITIES are divided and a huge political row has erupted over plans to make the Clwydian Range a National Park.

Clwyd West Tory AM Darren Millar has strongly campaigned for an extension of the Clwydian Range AONB to go ahead, with the end result being the creation of Wales’ fourth National Park.

But he has been blasted by Plaid Cymru candidate for Clwyd South, Mabon ap Gwynfor, branding him “out of touch” with the rural community’s wishes.

The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) is currently undertaking a consultation on whether the Clwydian Range's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) should be enhanced to include Ruabon and Llantysilio Mountains and the Vale of Llangollen from Chirk upstream to Corwen.

A meeting will be held on Monday (March 28) to discuss the next move, following a five week statutory consultation period, during which copies of the proposed Designation Order and the boundary maps have been available for public inspection at offices of Denbighshire and Wrexham local authorities, Countryside Council for Wales and local libraries.

“Whilst I fully support the CCW’s proposal to extend the AONB, I feel this doesn’t go far enough and I would like to see the Clwydian Range designated as a National Park,” said Mr Millar.

“National Parks were created to protect the most beautiful landscapes in the UK.
“Whilst the primary purpose of both an AONB and National Park designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area, National Park status also has the specific purpose of promoting opportunities for the understanding and special qualities of the area by the public.

“It is for this reason that communities and businesses associated with the Clwydian Range would benefit significantly if it were designated as a National Park, especially in terms of opportunities to promote the area to visitors.

But Mr Gwynfor replied: “Rural communities covered by the Clwydian Range don't want a National Park and for good reason - not only will it severely limit their ability to develop their businesses, but it would be run by representatives who have no interest or concern in the area, taking responsibility out of the hands of the communities that live within the area.

“Darren Millar’s campaign for a National Park would bring an extra level of bureaucracy; would not be representative of the local communities; and would stunt any potential growth for agricultural businesses within the area.”

But Llangollen hotelier Stephanie Booth says the extension of the AONB would “promote and encourage tourism and also make sure that any development is sympathetic to the countryside”.

However many farmers are echoing Plaid Cymru’s concerns with Efion Davies, chairman of the Glyn Ceiriog branch of the NFU saying he is worried that his property becoming part of an extended AONB or National Park would have a detrimental affect on his livelihood