EXTENDING THE DEDHAM VALE AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY (AONB) – UPDATE
You will be interested to know that our campaign to extend the AONB westward towards Sudbury has made significant progress over the past year.
The Dedham Vale AONB & Stour Valley Project, was surprised and delighted last June to find itself one of 15 AONBs invited to submit suggestions as to why Natural England should consider making an AONB Variation Order to extend the boundaries towards Sudbury.
Katherine Potts, the Project Manager, has submitted our proposals based on the Project’s existing boundaries to enable Natural England to make an initial assessment of the suggestions. The submission included letters of support from Essex and Suffolk County Councils, Colchester Borough Council, Braintree and Babergh District Councils and all the parish councils in the area under consideration. There were also supporting letters from Tim Yeo MP and Brooks Newmark MP, Members of Parliament for the area concerned, all the amenity societies, including the Colne Stour Countryside Association, and Essex University. There were no objections by any individuals or organisations. If and when we are invited to get into the formal process of boundary review, wide ranging consultation will take place and all views will be considered.
The initial screening exercise will, hopefully, be completed by the end of March 2014, after which those suggestions which are seen as potentially suitable, will be asked for “a formal proposal supported by Landscape Character Assessment based evidence identifying indicators of natural beauty.” We are warned that if this Stage 2 proposal is requested, submitted and then approved by Natural England, it could then enter a formal designation process (taking up to three years) which would include full, formal consultation on the proposals. Natural England is likely to deal with only one AONB designation or Variation Order at a time.
Whilst this may all seem frustratingly slow and bureaucratic, it does represent a real advance and we now await the response from Natural England. We will advise members both on the website and in this magazine of further developments.
Last year Robert wrote an article on extending the AONB and the above brings you up to date on the progress being made. He is President of the Dedham Vale Society and is a Committee Member of the CSCA.