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Suffolk County Council to back AONB boundary extension while £1m secured to bury overhead lines

PUBLISHED: 19:16 15 April 2018 | UPDATED: 19:16 15 April 2018

The AONB on the Suffolk coast and heaths is set to expand Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The AONB on the Suffolk coast and heaths is set to expand Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Suffolk County Council’s cabinet is set to back plans by Natural England to extend the county’s areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) this week, while funding for burying cables has already been secured.

Walking guides for the AONB allow people to explore the landscape. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Walking guides for the AONB allow people to explore the landscape. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A consultation was launched by Natural England in January over plans to extend the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB so that it reaches the south shore of the River Stour in Essex.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet will discuss the proposals on Tuesday, where it is recommended that the council’s response to the consultation broadly backs the proposals, albeit with some adjustments.

Matthew Hicks, cabinet member for environment, public protection and broadband, said: “The proposed extension of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a long-held ambition.

“Not only would this bring new opportunities for extending the AONB in Suffolk, it would also support the county’s vibrant tourism industry and the related employment opportunities.

“This month Suffolk County Council’s cabinet will be asked to agree our response to Natural England’s consultation.

“To ensure that the benefits for Suffolk are fully realised, the request will be that Natural England considers new evidence and makes amendments to their proposal, by including additional areas within the extended AONB.”

The cabinet report added that it marks a “long awaited milestone” in protecting Suffolk’s landscape.

The response comes after the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB secured £1.1million Ofgem funding to bury unsightly overhead electricity lines.

One at the top of the Blyth estuary will be buried, costing around £650,000, while a further £530,000 has been allocated to lines in Shotley, which were identified as having the biggest impact.

Work is expected to get underway early next year once all legal and administrative work has been completed, and will be carried out by UK Power Networks.

Mr Hicks added: “I’m delighted that £1.1m has recently been secured to fund two schemes to bury unsightly overhead electricity lines.

“We have already seen in locations such as Sutton Hoo and Iken what a huge difference schemes like this can make to our beautiful landscapes, so this news is greatly welcomed.”

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