A PETITION calling for the Cambrian Mountains to be protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is due to be debated in the Senedd on Wednesday, 30 November as the Cambrian News went to press.

The Cambrian News has reported over the past 18 months on the long-running bid to protect the region, and the campaign group The Cambrian Mountains Society (CMS), efforts to force politicians to look at granting AONB status.

A petition launched earlier this year collected 3,571 signatures online and 17,318 signatures on paper, making for a total of 20,889 signatures – reaching the 10,000 signature threshold for consideration for a debate at the Senedd.

The petition was handed in at the Senedd by members of the CMS last month.

The petition says “AONB designation would bring balance between development, local communities’ needs and people’s need for green space.”

Conservation of these uplands gets little attention,” the petition said.

“Farms are bought up for conifer planting or for large wind farms despite the lack of infrastructure.

“So beautiful a region needs protection and longer term rural employment.”

The Cambrian uplands spread across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys, and includes exceptional glaciated plateaux, lakes, mountain rivers and valleys and host a wide range of threatened plants and animals – yet are the only area in Wales to have no formal protection whatsoever.

The campaign for AONB status has been backed by numerous high-profile supporters including Iolo Williams, TV naturalist, who is the Cambrian Mountains Society’s president; Sir Simon Jenkins, former Times editor, current Guardian columnist, and former chair of the National Trust; celebrated author and award-winning journalist, Neil Ansell; and BBC broadcaster and writer, Mary Colwell.

The debate is tabled by Petition’s Committee Chair, Jack Sargeant MS.

Welsh Government and other Senedd Members will have an opportunity to contribute and respond.

The plenary debate session will begin at 1.30pm and be shown live online at senedd.tv.