What is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is an area of high scenic quality which has statutory protection in order to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of its landscape. AONB landscapes range from rugged coastline to water meadows to gentle lowland and upland moors. There are currently 33 AONB designations wholly within England along with the Wye Valley which spans the English-Welsh border. In all, AONB designation covers approximately 15 per cent of the land area of England.
AONBs are designated solely for their landscape qualities, for the purpose of conserving and enhancing their natural beauty (which includes landform and geology, plants and animals, landscape features and the rich history of human settlement over the centuries).
Proposed Extention to the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.
The Natural England Board have agreed to begin work to assess whether the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) boundary should be extended into Essex to cover the south side of the Stour estuary in Essex.
The decision follows an initial assessment by local AONB partners which concluded that there was evidence to support the position that the area has sufficient natural beauty to qualify as an AONB.
Natural England will now formally determine the proposal by the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths AONB Partnership and Tendring District Council that seeks to extend the AONB boundary southwards to encompass almost 36 km2 comprising tidal estuary, coastal farmland and woodland along the southern edge of the Stour estuary.
Natural England has a discretionary power to designate AONBs or to vary the boundary of an existing AONB by a variation Order. If Natural England ultimately decides to vary the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths AONB boundary, a variation Order can be expected to be submitted in 2015 to the Secretary of State for a final decision.
Maddy Jago, Natural England’s Director of Landscape & Biodiversity said:
“Today’s Board decision enables work to begin on formally assessing whether the southern Stour estuary can be given AONB status as part of an extension to the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB. We are grateful to the Partnership for the work they have carried out to get the proposal to this stage and will now determine whether a variation to the existing AONB is appropriate.”
Downloand the History of our AONB HERE