£1m funding will help farmers care for protected landscapes

Farmland in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Farmland in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - Credit: Ben Heather

A major new fund has been announced to help farmers and land managers conserve and enhance protected landscapes in Suffolk and Essex.

Defra's  new Farming in Protected Landscapes programme offers financial support for projects in environmentally-sensitive areas relating to "climate, nature, people and place".

The programme will invest nearly £1m across two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in Dedham Vale and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths, with the bulk of funds targeted at farmers and landowners.

The scheme will be led by newly-appointed farming in protected landscapes officer Alex Dinsdale, who previously worked with the National Farmers’ Union before more recently working in precision farming and agri-tech roles.

He said the funding aims to have a "significant positive impact" on conserving and enhancing these nationally-designated areas, and a range of "exciting proposals" have already been submitted by farmers in both Dedham Vale and the Coast and Heaths AONBs. 

These include an application for investment to support a transition to regenerative agriculture, proposals to measure and improve freshwater water quality, initiatives to rejuvenate old orchards and establish new ones, and environmental training and information for farmers and landowners. 

Mr Dinsdale said “We’re already seeing lots of interest from farmers across both AONBs and we’re looking forward to seeing many more applications.

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"The Farming in Protected Landscape programme will lead to real improvements for our landscapes, nature recovery and farm business resilience, and plays a useful role in the transition of agricultural support mechanisms from the [EU's] Common Agricultural Policy into the new Environmental Land Management scheme.

"The Farming in Protected Landscapes team would welcome applications from farmers and land managers located in both the Coast and Heaths and Dedham Vale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty."

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB and Dedham Vale on the Essex-Suffolk border were both designated in 1970. The Coast and Heaths AONB was later extended to include more parts of North Essex along the Stour Estuary.

For more information on Farming in Protected Landscapes grants and application details see www.suffolkcoastandheaths.org or www.dedhamvalestourvalley.org or contact 01502 674630 or AONBfarmgrants@suffolk.gov.uk.

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