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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Fifty years of beauty for Lleyn
Sheep ; picture Rhiw.com
The AONB designation can help farmers on the peninsula
The Lleyn peninsula is marking 50 years as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with a series of events.

Bleddyn Jones, in charge of the Lleyn scheme, said the the choice of the area as an AONB had been "groundbreaking at the time" because it was only the third in Wales and England.

AONBs are defined in law as "fine landscapes, of great variety in character and extent".

Events to celebrate Lleyn's AONB half-century include walks and talks.

There are stricter planning rules and grants available for environmental projects within an AONB.

One project on the 30-mile long Lleyn peninsula, Cronfa Natur Gwynedd (Gwynedd Nature Fund), concentrates on smaller scale schemes involving landowners and farmers.

"We have worked on projects such as protecting hedgerows, stone walls, opening ponds, maintaining marshy land, woodland - an extensive list of habitats which are becoming rarer or are under threat," said Haydn Hughes from the fund.

Farmers are attracted to the scheme because it encourages them to set aside land for wildlife without restrictions on the amount they need to commit, said Gwynedd Watkins from the Farmers Union of Wales.

Lleyn view
The patchwork of fields is included in the designation

"We welcome the scheme because farmers who are exempt from other schemes can take part," he added.

"Because it was only the third of its kind the designation was groundbreaking at the time and we hope to raise people's awareness of what has been achieved with a series of events such as walks and talks throughout this year," added Bleddyn Jones.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) were brought into being by the same legislation as National Parks - the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949.

The Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales are responsible for designating AONBs and advising the UK Government on policies for their protection.

A full list of events to mark the designation's celebrations can be found on the Gwynedd County Council web site.

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