Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Boundary Variation Project

Closed 20 Apr 2018

Opened 26 Jan 2018

Results Updated 12 Dec 2018

Natural England received 126 responses to the consultation, a large majority of which were in favour of the designation of the proposed extensions. In addition, a range of suggested amendments to the proposed boundary were proposed, both to include additional land and to remove land. The responses were given detailed consideration by Natural England, with particular regard given to the evidence submitted in support of individual responses. A further site visit was also undertaken in August 2018. Following this detailed assessment, it was concluded that no new evidence had been submitted which required the original decision made by the Board in September 2017 to be amended. At its meeting on the 5th December 2018, the Board approved the draft Order, without any changes to the boundary proposed during the statutory and public consultation. It also approved the publication of the required Notice, as stipulated in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000. Once the Notice is published, copies of the draft Order will be available for public inspection for a minimum of 28 days in local authority offices and libraries. The rationale for the Board’s decision will also be made publicly available at the same time. Any person may make representations to Natural England during the Notice Period. Further information will be made available on the next stage in due course, but it is anticipated that this will be towards the end of January 2019.


Natural England is the public body responsible for conserving and enhancing the natural environment in England. One of Natural England’s responsibilities is to decide whether an area should be given special status and protection by designating it as a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  The purpose of AONB designation is to conserve and enhance an area’s natural beauty. AONBs are designated by Natural England using statutory powers in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

For many years there has been a local desire to extend the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (SC&H AONB) southwards into Essex, which has been supported by the AONB Partnership and local authorities.  A formal request was put to Natural England by the AONB Partnership proposing a variation to the AONB boundary to extend the designation across the Stour estuary including the southern shore. Natural England’s Board subsequently approved a partial review of the AONB boundary in the area of the Stour Estuary ‘to determine for itself whether it should be varied’.

All the relevant technical assessments and consultation documents can be downloaded via the links in this consultation.  It is recommended that you read these documents before completing the on-line response form.  These comprise:

  • SC&H AONB Consultation documents: covering letter; factsheet and consultation document
  • Guidance for Assessing Landscapes for Designation as a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Natural Beauty Assessment and accompanying figures
  • Desirability Assessment
  • Boundary Justification
  • Maps indicating the proposed revision to the boundary

Please note that some of these documents are large and may take some time to download

Why We Are Consulting

The purpose of this consultation is to seek your views on whether you agree that specific areas have the qualities required for inclusion within an AONB, whether they should be designated and whether the proposed new boundaries are appropriate.  The proposed AONB extensions are:

  • the Stour Estuary including the estuary itself, northern estuary valley slopes at Brantham and the majority of the southern estuary valley slopes;
  • The Freston Brook Valley, a tributary of the Orwell Estuary which extends inland from the existing AONB boundary westwards and includes surrounding plateau woodlands; and
  • The Samford Valley, a tributary of the Stour Estuary, which extends further inland from the existing AONB boundary at Stutton Bridge and includes some areas of neighbouring Shotley Peninsula Plateau.

These areas have been identified as a result of detailed technical assessments by Natural England to investigate which landscapes meet the statutory requirements for inclusion in the SC&H AONB.  The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires that Natural England next undertakes a statutory Local Authority consultation prior to reaching a final decision. This is the current stage reached by the project and we have decided that we would also like to give everybody with an interest in the proposed extensions the opportunity to express their views on whether these areas should be designated.

The on line response form has been divided into three parts.

Part A is for recording information about you.

Part B is for recording comments about whether the proposed designations should go ahead.

Part C is for recording more detailed comments about the proposed designation areas. This includes comments about how well they meet the natural beauty criterion, whether it is desirable that the proposed extensions are designated and comments on the proposed boundaries.

Please feel free to complete as many or as few parts of the response form as you wish.

If you need more space to add your comments, please use the additional Information pages at the end.

If you have any questions or require further assistance or copies of the consultation pack you can:

 E-mail us at: sc&haonbdesignationproject@

 Phone 0208 0265 774. If no one is available, please leave a message and contact details and we will return your call.

 Write to us at: Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Boundary Review Project, Natural England, Eastbrook, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge, CB2 8DR

What Happens Next

Following analysis of consultation responses, the proposals will then be reviewed and where necessary, amended to take account of any further relevant evidence received. Depending on the number of responses received this is likely to take around three months.  A summary of responses will be provided via CitizenSpace.

If no fundamental objections arise which cannot be overcome, and assuming no additional land needs to be included as a result of the consultation, the next stage will be to draw up a draft Order and to publish Notice of the Order in the London Gazette and other papers as required by Section 83(2) of the CRoW Act. Natural England Board approval will then be sought for the draft Order prior to publication of the Notice. 

The Notice period allows anyone who wishes to do so to make representations to Natural England, objecting to, supportive of, or proposing amendments to the Order, and stating the grounds on which they are made. If however as a result of the consultation, additional land needs to be included within the proposed boundary variation, an additional statutory consultation will be required.

Following the Notice period, a further period of response analysis will be required and any further consequent changes made to the draft legal Order.  It is difficult to provide a time estimate for this at this stage. Board approval will then be sought to allow the Order to be ‘made’ and submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation. If there are any unresolved objections, these will be submitted to the Secretary of State with the Order, who has discretion to call a Public Inquiry to determine them, before deciding whether or not to confirm the Order.

It is important to note that the Secretary of State may or may not confirm the Order, with or without amendment; and has the discretion to subject the Order to Public Inquiry if minded to do so.  This decision is not made to any specific timescale. 



  • Charities/Voluntary Organisations
  • AWBs
  • Environmental campaigners
  • Animal welfare campaigners
  • Trade Unions
  • Employment Agencies
  • Food Business Operators
  • Licensed Gangmasters
  • Food Industry
  • Vets
  • Operators of animal gatherings
  • Abattoir Operator
  • Livestock show ground operators
  • Manufacturers of livestock identifiers
  • All Marine Users
  • Government Departments
  • Government Agencies
  • Devolved Administrations
  • Coastal Members of Parliament
  • Coastal local authorities
  • National Park Authorities
  • Recreation sector
  • Coastal Management sector
  • Aggregates sector
  • Energy sector
  • Industries and professional services
  • Ports and Harbour Authorities and Estuaries
  • Water/water Industry sector
  • IFCAs
  • Angling Organisations and Trade
  • Fishing Focus individual recipients
  • Water Abstractors
  • Environmental professional services
  • Estate Agents
  • House Building Industry
  • Property Management
  • Legal and Conveyancing Professions
  • Households
  • Local Authorities
  • Non-Household Customers
  • Consumer Groups
  • Commercial Fisheries Organisations
  • Fisheries Producer Organisations
  • Waste Producers and Handlers
  • Business/Private Sector
  • Policy Teams
  • Pet Owners
  • Pet Interest Groups
  • Pet Carriers
  • Transport Organisations
  • Veterinarians
  • Local Authorities
  • Producer Compliance Schemes
  • WEEE Treatment Facilities
  • Waste Management Companies
  • Electrical re-use organisations
  • All Defra staff and ALBs
  • Walkers
  • Horse riders
  • Families
  • Students
  • Farmers
  • Fishermen
  • SME businesses
  • Energy suppliers
  • Water suppliers
  • Leisure industry
  • Tourism industry
  • Insurance industry
  • Horticulture Industry
  • Shellfish Cultivators
  • Tenant Farmers
  • Agricultural Landlords
  • Agricultural Valuers
  • Land Agents
  • Trading Standards Officers
  • Environmental Health Officers
  • Professional and Membership Organisations/Agencies
  • Public Bodies
  • Consultants
  • Beach Users


  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty