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Expansion of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Suffolk given green light

River Stour

The Government's approved an expansion of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to include areas like the Stour estuary.

It's been confirmed today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that a 38 square kilometre expansion of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB has been approved.

They say the area includes the Stour estuary which is considered one of the most important wildlife estuaries in Europe and of international importance for wildfowl and waders.

The last time an AONB was expanded was the nearby Dedham Vale in 1991.

The new designation means that a greater area of nationally significant landscape will be managed to conserve and ehance its natural beauty.

The area will now benefit from the AONB's advice and guidance, as well as funding which is made available to designated landscapes to deliver their statutory purpose.

The area will also focus on natural beauty in national planning policy to help protect and enhance the landscape.

It will also benefit the local area, enabling businesses and tourist sites to promote the area as an AONB and access relevant grants, including for sustainable tourism.

DEFRA Secretary of State, George Eustice, said: "Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks are among the most treasured places in our great English countryside, and this landmark decision demonstrates our commitment to designating even more places for people and wildlife to enjoy.

"The Suffolk Coast and Heaths is a landscape rich in hisotry and a source of inspiration to countless artists, writers and musicians, and these extensions are a worthy addition especially during this unprecedented time, when many of us are connecting with nature more than ever before.

"This milestone marks a significant step towards putting our ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan to leave the environment in a better state than we found it into action."

Natural England, the statutory agency for the natural environment, carried out thorough technical analysis and extensive consultation, before submitting the proposed extensions to government for consideration.

Tony Juniper, who's the Chair of Natural England, said: "Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty represent some of the country's most valued landscapes, designated to conserve and enhance natural beauty.

"We welcome this magnificent milestone and firmly believe in the benefits this extension to the AONB will bring - the environment, the economy and the many people who will enjoy in perpetuity the stunning landscapes and natural treasures found here.

"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 AONB's 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."

Councillor David Wood, who's the Chairman of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Partnership, said: "We are delighted that this Order has been confirmed.

"The AONB partnership made up of public private and third sector organisations, has had an aspiration to bring the benefits of the designation to a wider area for over 20 years.

"Locally we have always known that the area in the Order was outstanding, and with this news we can be confident that the natural beauty of the area will be conserved and enhanced for future generations."

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