The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty commissioned NEF Consulting to measure and assess the economic and social wellbeing benefits and the environmental impacts of six visitor sites. The aim was to assess the impact of increasing visitor numbers at the sites so as to enable the development of a sustainable approach to their management. The report analyses the social impacts, including wellbeing benefits to visitors and the impacts on local communities, as well as assessing the environmental impacts of tourism at the sites.
The AONB forms the dramatic upland frontier of North Wales, including 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.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FINDINGS
The estimated expenditure of visitors to the six sites in 2018 supported a total of 449 FTE jobs, which is the equivalent to 19% of all jobs from tourism in rural Denbighshire.
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. The AONB helped them 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.
The total cost of litter, including dog waste, and maintenance of paths is approximately £34,400 per year for all six sites. In total, the value to the 1.13 million annual visitors of preserving the natural environment is, we estimated, £35.4 million per annum.
The report presents recommendations, along with an action plan, for reducing the environmental impacts of visitor numbers while maximising and spreading the economic and social benefits to the wider area.