Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB’s future under review
Public invited to comment on blueprint for Suffolk landscape gem
The public has the chance to help shape the future management of the nationally treasured landscape jewel that is the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Visited by about four million people each year, generating an estimated £200million for the local economy and underpinning more than 3,000 jobs, the protected area covers 155 square miles. It includes stunning beaches, impressive estuaries, internationally important heaths and much-loved historic towns. It covers a swathe of east Suffolk from Kessingland, near Lowestoft, to the Shotley Peninsula, and a potential extension across the Stour Estuary to part of Essex is currently being considered.
Protection, enhancement and management of the AONB is crucial for a huge range of social benefits and the conservation of numerous rare wildlife species.
Now a new five-year blueprint for the designated area is being drawn up, with public consultation on the plan starting on Saturday.
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David Wood, chairman of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Partnership, said: “Our natural places are enormously important to our wellbeing, these mosaics of habitats are vital to our wildlife and our natural and cultural heritage are of great importance to all who live in, work in and visit the area. We can all play a part in its conservation and enhancement – the key objectives of the national designation of this landscape – and shaping the next five years is an excellent way of doing this.”
The draft plan up for discussion examines four main themes: coast and estuaries, land use and wildlife, enjoying the area and working together.
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In his foreword to the document, Mr Wood says the plan’s aspiration went “way beyond” its legal requirements. “It is a place-based plan developed through local consensus and seeks to define the approach to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB,” he writes.
He adds: “There is a lot to do to deliver our aspiration and it will require a lot of work. This will be undertaken during changing times that will be both challenging and exciting.”
The plan is widely seen as being more important than ever given development pressures for national infrastructure, such as Sizewell C, on the coast. It will seek to unite people to develop best management options and will seek to provide a framework for addressing the impacts of climate change.
The document, and an AONB survey, can be viewed from Saturday at www.suffolkcoastandheaths.org/about-us/aonb-management-plan
Comments can be made until May 21.