Suffolk: Project to boost region’s coastline gets lottery funding windfall

Bill Jenman, Turning The Tide project manager

Bill Jenman, Turning The Tide project manager - Credit: Archant

An ambitious and far-reaching project that aims to conserve and enhance Suffolk’s much-loved coastline – and enable thousands of people to gain inspiration from it – got lucky at last yesterday.

It won a vital £900,000 Heritage Lottery Fund windfall that project supporters had been keeping their fingers crossed for since 2009.

The project has the title Touching the Tide – and it aims to touch the lives of huge numbers of residents and tourists in a swathe of imaginative schemes that range from nature conservation to social history and military heritage.

It will involve events, education and environmental work along a stretch of the Suffolk coastline from Covehithe in the north to Felixstowe in the south – an area covering 125sq km.

The funding will support Touching the Tide for three years. It is being made available through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnership Scheme and has been awarded after a meticulous and painstaking application.

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The project is being led by the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team in partnership with a wide range of local organisations, individuals, local authorities and statutory agencies.

Touching the Tide partners say the project aims to “encourage people actively to care for their coast, promoting awareness and understanding of the area and conserving what makes the Suffolk coast so special.”

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The Suffolk coast is one of the most rapidly changing in Europe, they say, and Touching The Tide would include saltmarsh restoration projects and work to protect the internationally important vegetated shingle at Shingle Street, Aldeburgh and Orford Ness, as well as revealing the military and social history of the coastline’s famous Martello towers and the wider military heritage of the area.

Among its many innovative schemes, Touching The Tide is to work with a group of local enthusiasts to mark the decommissioning of Orford Lighthouse.

It will support a wide range of heritage-focused arts projects, work with local organisations and schools, and create new opportunities for people to enjoy the coast and find out more about its history. There will also be community archaeology projects in which people could take part in a “hands-on” way.

Project officers added: “In particular, Touching the Tide will work with partners and communities to improve understanding and appreciation of coastal change, aiming to discover new ways of working to deal with the challenge of coastal change and how it will determine the future of the landscape.”

A delighted Touching the Tide project manager Bill Jenman added last night: “It is great news. It is a great project and I am really genuinely enthusiastic about it. I have put a year’s work into it but so have a lot of other people and we are all thrilled.

“One of the nicest things about it is that groups of people are working together.

“It has opened lines of communication all over the place and that is marvellous.”

Heritage Lottery Fund officials said its Landscape Partnership grant programme, which has been running for nine years, helped conserve some of the UK’s most diverse and locally distinctive landscapes by supporting schemes that provide long-term social, economic and environmental benefits for rural areas.

“It is the most significant grant scheme available for landscape-scale projects and is at the cutting edge of delivery,” they said.

The fund had supported almost 35,000 projects with investments totalling more than £5.5billion across the UK, including more than £370million in the East of England

Stuart Hobley, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s development manager for the East of England, said: “The Suffolk Coast is such an extraordinary area – an ever-changing coastline which has such a personal connection to the communities who live, work and visit there.

“Our funding will help more people to experience and understand the historic environment around them. ”

David Wood, chairman of both Touching the Tide and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said: “It’s great to be starting at last. We’ve been looking forward to this day since we first got a group of local people and organisations together back in 2009 and first sketched out the project that became Touching the Tide.”

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey added: “I welcome the Heritage Lottery Fund supporting this important and wide-ranging project combining natural resources with the rich history of the special Suffolk coast.”

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