Suffolk coast's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to be extended
PUBLISHED: 00:04 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:41 12 February 2019
Natural England has put forward plans to extend the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) for the first time in almost 50 years.
The move would see around 15 square miles brought within the protected area with the aim of strengthening protection for Suffolk and north Essex’s countryside, coast and wildlife.
It would see the AONB increase by nearly 10% - the equivalent of 3,800 international rugby pitches - stretching down to include the Stour Estuary, Samford Valley and Freston Brook Valley areas.
Marian Spain, Natural England’s interim chief executive, said: “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty represent some of the country’s most valued landscapes, designated to conserve and enhance natural beauty. “The extension of Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB would ensure magnificent estuary, valley and woodland views in this part of Suffolk and Essex are given added protection.
“The support and input from the public and stakeholders has been vital in developing these plans, and we look forward to working closely together as we hopefully see them become a reality.”
The UK has a total of 46 AONBs, spanning from Cornwall to the North Pennines.
This is the first time Natural England has put forward plans to extend the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB since it was designated in 1970.
The move is expected to bring positive benefits to the areas being brought into the AONB as it will enable businesses and tourist sites to promote the area and to access potential grants.
The plans would see the AONB extended to include The Stour Estuary, the northern estuary valley slopes at Brantham and the majority of the southern estuary valley between Mistley and Parkeston.
It would also include the Samford Valley, which flows into the Stour Estuary, which extends further inland from the current AONB boundary at Stutton Bridge.
The Freston Brook Valley, a tributary of the River Orwell, will also became part of the AONB.
The proposals come as Julian Glover leads a government review into protected landscapes in the UK - the first evaluation in 70 years - to see if they meet the nation’s needs and whether there is scope for the current National Parks and AONBs to expand.
The public have until Friday, March 22, to have their say on the plans.