Views sought on future of county’s landscape
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 is being drawn up, with consultation on the plan starting tomorrow.
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 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 and would be developed through 'local consensus'.
The plan is widely seen as being more important than ever given development pressures for national infrastructure, such as Sizewell C, on the coast.
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The document, and an AONB survey, can be viewed from tomorrow at www.suffolkcoastandheaths.org/about-us/aonb-management-plan.Comments can be made until May 21.
In tomorrow's environment section: A blueprint for beauty – more management plan coverage.