EVERY year, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) makes an award to a community, individual or business that has made an outstanding contribution to the landscape of the AONB.

This year, the AONB was delighted the award was able to recognise the work of the National Grid for their support of the ‘Lost Landscapes’ project, funded through their Landscape Enhancement Initiative scheme, which has helped to restore some key features of the AONB.

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AONB project officer Ruth Calcraft explained that the project, which began in March 2018, had strengthened the visual character of the landscape through hedge restoration and planting, the reviving of old ponds, rebuilding drystone walls, scrub removal and woodland planting.

The project has also supported important habitats for wildlife including helping wildflowers to thrive on roadside nature reserves and carrying out management work on heather moorland to benefit rare species such as the black grouse.

In addition, access work to increase visitor enjoyment of the area had been completed including work to improve views from the Offa’s Dyke path above Tremeirchion and the installation of new gates to replace stiles on two footpaths.

Following the presentation which was held at Llandegla's community-run shop and café - which is just off the Offa’s Dyke Path and is a welcome break for walkers - a site visit was completed to Plas yn Iâl Historic Park and Garden, a key landmark in the Morwynion Valley where Huw and Bethan Beech showcased some of the work that had been completed via the project.

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This work includes new parkland fencing, hedge laying, the removal of invasive non-native rhododendron, specialist tree surgery to help extend the life of selected veteran trees and the parkland planting of oak trees.

AONB officer Howard Sutcliffe said: “From Caer Drewyn, Corwen to Minera, and the heart of the Morwynion Valley, the work carried out on the Lost Landscapes project with support from the Landscape Enhancement Initiative has already begun to have a significant positive impact within the AONB."

On receiving the award, Michelle Clark, from National Grid, said: “Working collaboratively with stakeholders is vital to our way of working at National Grid.

"The effective early engagement and collaboration with stakeholders championed by the Visual Impact Provision projects, of which the Landscape Enhancement Initiative forms a part, have helped to make a positive contribution to enhancing the natural beauty, biodiversity and cultural heritage within some of our most precious landscapes.

"We are now seeking to roll out lessons learned from the approach to collaborative working we’ve taken through these projects more widely across our business.”

Chair of the AONB joint-committee is Flintshire county councillor Dave Hughes and he said: "It’s been fantastic to see the AONB and project partners, volunteers and landowners all working together to help safeguard the character of these spectacular and treasured landscapes for generations to come.”

Denbighshire county councillor and AONB joint committee member Cllr Emrys Wynne said: “The Lost Landscapes Project supported by Landscape Enhancement Initiative scheme has been fantastic in really inspiring people and landowners to pick up the baton to help restore and enhance beautiful areas that surround our communities. It has been heart-warming to hear of this brilliant work to protect and support our landscapes into the future."

Chris Baines, chair of the Visual Impact Provision Stakeholder Advisory Group, added: “One of the most exciting outcomes of the Landscape Enhancement Initiative has been the way that it has inspired local people to get involved and enormous credit should be given to those farmers and landowners who live in and deeply love this landscape.

"Collective action from those who know and understand the landscape of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB means that we’re now seeing enhancements on a truly landscape scale.

"It is inspiring to see the success of communities coming together to effect great change. The whole Visual Impact Provision project of which LEI is part has been transformational, something acknowledged only last month in a personal letter from Sir David Attenborough praising our work with willow tit in the eastern Peak District.”