National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 secured permanent protection for AONBs against development that would damage their special qualities, in order to conserve some of the finest landscapes in England for the nation’s benefit.
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended by CRoW)
Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000 brought further AONB protection. CRoW requires local authorities to prepare and publish a plan, which formulates their policy for the management of the AONB and for the carrying out of their functions in relation to it. The current plan must be reviewed and adopted by 31st March 2014. link to review
Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC) (in England and Wales)