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The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) forms the dramatic upland frontier of North Wales. It includes the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site and parts of the Offa’s Dyke National Trail. Covering an area of 150 square miles, from Prestatyn Hillside in the north to the North Berwyn and Dee Valley in the south, it is a dramatic combination of windswept hilltops, heather moorland, limestone crags and wooded valleys. The AONB also includes many rural villages and the towns of Llangollen and Corwen.



The AONB commissioned NEF Consulting to carry out a visitor impacts appraisal, to measure and assess the economic and social wellbeing benefits and the environmental impacts of six visitor sites:

  1. Chirk Aqueduct and Viaduct
  2. Loggerheads Country Park
  3. Moel Famau Country Park
  4. Panorama
  5. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Trevor Basin
  6. Horseshoe Falls and Llantysilio Green

The aim was to inform the response to increasing visitor numbers at these sites and to set out a sustainable approach to management, ensuring that the capacity and resilience of the sites are at the heart of that approach.

NEF Consulting conducted extensive research into the local context and strategic management of the AONB, a visitor survey both in the area and online, and interviews with local businesses.

The research findings include visitor profiles based on the survey data, with an analysis of the economic impact of visitor expenditure in the area. The report provides an analysis of social impacts, including the benefits to the wellbeing of the visitors and both positive and negative impacts on the local communities. And an assessment of the environmental impacts of tourism at the six sites completes the analysis.


Economic Impacts

  • The six sites combined accounted for an estimated £24.1m in direct expenditure by visitors in 2018. These sites therefore accounted for an estimated 19% of all tourist expenditure in rural Denbighshire in 2018.
  • The estimated total of 449 FTE jobs supported by the expenditure of visitors to the six sites in 2018 was equivalent to 19% of all jobs from tourism in rural Denbighshire in 2018.

Social Impacts

  • Across all sites, almost 92% of survey participants agreed or strongly agreed that living in or near to the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB is good for life in their community.
  • AONB helped participants to relax, escape stress and find personal peace, giving a wellbeing value of £8.8m per annum.
  • Visits to the AONB could lead to an estimated £733,000 of reduced health expenditure per year – approximately £23,000 from reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease and £708,000 from reduced type-2 diabetes.

Environmental Impacts

  • We estimated the total cost of litter, including dog waste, and maintenance of paths to be approximately £34,400 per year for all six sites.
  • The total value to the 1.13 million annual visitors of preserving the natural environment is, we estimated, £35.4 million per annum.

In the report, we made recommendations for reducing the environmental impacts of visitor numbers while maximising and spreading the economic and social benefits to the wider area. Finally, we presented an action plan, detailing options and potential time frames for implementing the recommendations.




New Economics Foundation

NEF aims to create a new economy that works for people and within environmental limits. We are guided by three missions:

A new social settlement
To ensure people are paid well, have more time off to spend with their families, and have access to the things we all need for a decent life.

A Green New Deal
A plan for government-led investment to reduce the carbon we emit and boost nature, while creating a new generation of jobs.

The democratic economy
To devolve state power and transform ownership of the economy to give everyone an equal stake in the places where we live and work.

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