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Boundary Review

This outstanding landscape just got a whole lot bigger!

We’re delighted that The Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed an extension to the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on 7th July 2020.

It has been a long-held ambition for the AONB Partnership to see the area extended to include the wildlife-rich tidal expanse of the Stour estuary, coastal farmland and woodland along the southern edge of the Stour estuary in Tendring, Essex and two beautiful small river valleys, the Samford Valley and the Freston Brook in Babergh District, Suffolk.

This announcement recognises the quality of these landscapes as being amongst the most scenic in the country and will afford them special protection for the future.

Cllr David Wood, Chairman of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Partnership said: “With this news we can be confident that the natural beauty of the area will be conserved and enhanced for future generations”

The AONB Partnership is delighted to welcome 16 parishes into this nationally designated landscape; including Tattingstone; East Bergholt; Capel St Mary; Bentley; Mistley; Manningtree; Bradfield; Wrabness; Ramsey and Parkeston all of which did not previously form part of the Coast & Heaths AONB. 

The remaining 7 parishes of Freston, Wherstead, Holbrook, Stutton, Harkstead, Brantham and Erwarton all now have a larger part of their parishes within the AONB boundary. East Bergholt can now boast two AONBs, with different parts of its parish falling with the Dedham Vale AONB and the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB respectively..

Orchids in bloom

Photo credit: RSPB.

RSPB Stour Estuary reserve

Photo credit: R. Vonk.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are a national landscape designation, which along with National Parks conserve and enhance the most scenic landscapes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Howard Davies, Chief Executive of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty said: ‘ It is wonderful to see the Secretary of State approve this extension to the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, especially in the 50th anniversary year of its original designation. More so than ever, people are feeling the health and wellbeing benefits of being outdoors in beautiful spaces and we’re delighted that more of the stunning landscape of Suffolk is now protected for our communities and nature.’

The proposal to review the boundary of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB was first muted some 20 years ago. Since then, there have been few other changes to the designated landscapes of England, including the creation of the South Downs National Park and a 70km^2 extension to the Lake District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The review of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths is the first extension to an AONB since 2011 when the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB was extended.

In Essex and Suffolk, Natural England undertook detailed assessment of the landscape and a formal consultation as set out in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. A draft Order (detailed in this notice) was published in 2019; this identified the area considered to meet the criteria for AONB designation. 

This area, measuring approximately 38 square kilometers (see overview map above) has now been confirmed as part of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area comprises:The tidal estuary, coastal farmland and woodland along the southern edge of the Stour estuary - see map Samford Valley - see map Freston Brook - see map

For up to date information on any boundary variation for the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB, visit the website.

Rowboats by the river shore
Trees in the Stour Wood

Photo credit: RSPB.