Essex benefits from first AONB extension in 29 years
The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is to be expanded – partly into Essex.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced last week (Tuesday, July 7) that the AONB, which covered 401 square kilometres from Kessingland to Harwich, and inland to the edge of Ipswich, was to grow by a further 38 square kilometres.
This is the first AONB extension in 29 years, the most recent having previously been nearby Dedham Vale.
The newly designated areas comprise the Stour estuary, northern estuary valley slopes at Brantham, the majority of the southern estuary valley slopes and Freston Brook Valley. Also included are Samford Valley, a tributary of the Stour estuary, and some parts of the neighbouring Shotley Peninsula Plateau.
The new stretches lie within the Babergh District Council and Tendring District Council areas and neighbour the Ipswich Borough Council area.
Defra says they will benefit from funding available to designated landscapes to deliver their statutory purpose, as well as “greater focus on natural beauty in national planning policy to help protect and enhance [their] precious landscape”.
Natural England, a government advisory body, had consulted on the proposed expansion in 2018. Chairman Tony Juniper said: “Landscapes like this, which are designated for their natural beauty, will be a vital part of the new Nature Recovery Network that we are helping to establish.
“We look forward to working with our many partners in the AONBs and beyond to create more, bigger, better and connected natural areas, where people live, work and visit, as part of a truly green recovery from coronavirus.”