Orford Ness: Concern over possibility of restricted access to nature reserve

CONCERN has been expressed over the possibility of access being restricted to an internationally-important Suffolk nature reserve.

The National Trust is considering further limiting numbers to Orford Ness after discovering damage to the reserve’s shingle and fauna.

The trust says the fragile habitat could contain up to 15% of the world’s reserve of coastal vegetated shingle and has some of the best preserved shingle ridges in Europe.

Access to the nature reserve – used as a military test site when it was owned by the Ministry of Defence – already has some restrictions. The National Trust takes day-trippers over by boat on selected dates but there is less controls on fishermen and private boats.

Peter West, who runs Regardless River Trips and takes fisherman over to the reserve, said National Trust officials had assured him any changes would not affect his business.

He said: “There’s concern locally because locals feel they should have the right to go over and fish when they want to – they always have done so in the past.

“There’s lots of private boats and yachts that stop there in the summer and have barbecues and picnics. If there are concerns for the flora and fauna I think fisherman probably contribute less to that.”

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James Robinson, chairman of the riverside committee at New Orford Town Trust, said: “It’s a teacup without the storm at the moment.

“Some people have got the wrong end of the stick, there might be a problem with some fisherman coming from outside the area.

“We want sensible access. If you point out the various special bits most people will respect it and look after it.”

A meeting was held with affected groups at Sudbourne Village Hall over the summer. The National Trust is now reviewing the consultation before deciding on the best course of action.

David Mason, National Trust’s project manager at Orford Ness, said: “There have been tests over the years of the vegetation and shingle stretch which have identified some damage and we have noticed an increase in visitors to the site.

“Our view is there is access agreed and we’re working up a policy of how best to manage it.

“Limiting numbers might be an option but we’re not necessarily saying it’s the way forward.”

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