There are plans to extend the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to cover new swathes of countryside to the south and east of Farnham, linking up with the South Downs National Park, as well as between Chiddingfold and Dunsfold, and much of the parish of Witley.

Natural England has launched a statutory consultation for proposed extensions to the Surrey Hills, and is inviting interested groups and individuals to comment on its plans.

The proposals would increase the size of the AONB by 25 per cent – an addition of more than 100 square kilometres – helping protect more countryside from inappropriate development by beefing up legal protections and regulations to safeguard the landscape, wildlife, and cultural heritage of the area.

It can also can bring a range of benefits to local people, from boosting the local economy by supporting small businesses and traditional industries, to improving health and wellbeing and creating valuable educational opportunities.

New ‘candidate areas’ locally include the countryside between Frensham, Dockenfield and Rowledge, connecting the existing Surrey Hills area with the South Downs to the west; a new swathe of land stretching from Waverley Abbey and Moor Park to Runfold; and the northern bank of the Hog’s Back between Tongham and Guildford.

Two other extensions are proposed between Chiddingfold in the east, Dunsfold in the west and Loxhill in the north, in the area proposed for oil and gas exploration by UK Oil & Gas, and land to the east of the A283 in Witley.

Stakeholders and members of the public can visit the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Boundary Variation Project - Introduction - Defra - Citizen Space to find out how to participate in the consultation – the deadline for responses is June 13, 2023.

Waverley portfolio holder for planning and economic development, Councillor Liz Townsend BEM, said: “We welcome the proposals bought forward by Natural England to protect additional areas of countryside.

"AONB status protects the natural environment while also enriching the lives of those who live and work in the area. It can also help to ensure that any development is appropriate and sustainable.

“We will be looking at the detail of the proposals and I would urge our residents and businesses to do likewise and respond to Natural England. This will ensure that the review of the AONB takes into account the needs and concerns of the community.”