Our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

50th Anniversary - lots to celebrate


The Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB is celebrating 50 years since its designation. The purpose of the designation, to conserve and enhance natural beauty, remains as at least as important today as it did in 1970. The vision for the next 50 years must be to maintain these outstanding landscapes, support projects to address wildlife decline and encourage people from all sections of society to enjoy the benefits derived from them

The AONB team have been awarded a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver a series of projects to celebrate the anniversary and give everybody the opportunity to share the wonders of the area.

Spread the Word, Save our Birds!


Help birds on the Stour and Orwell Estuary this winter.

Many visitors to the Stour and Orwell Estuaries may not be aware that they are Special Protection Areas (SPAs). This means they have been classified as designated areas of protection for wild birds and their habitats. Sadly, over the last 15 years, the Stour and Orwell Estuaries have experienced a decline in a number of different birds.

The Stour and Orwell Estuaries provide a valuable place for many migrating birds throughout the year, and during winter are a vital area for feeding over the winter months.

This winter, visitors to the estuaries are being encouraged look out for birds including Grey Plover, Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Pintail, Dark-bellied Brent goose and Knot, and take note of their behaviours. At high tide provides a window for feeding while many birds rest at high tide. Disturbing birds at these times means they may take to the wing and not take the opportunity to feed and rest as much as they need. If birds become too unsettled in their habitat, they may not return to sites on the estuary again.

Visitors to the area are being asked to follow a few simple tips to ensure the birds keep returning to the area for many years to come.

• Try and stay off marked paths where possible especially when walking dogs off the lead
• Make a note of the tide level and what the birds may be doing
• Avoid walking too close to feeding or resting birds
• See how many birds you can identify on the estuary
• Share the importance of looking out for the birds with your friends and neighbours

Download our leaflet to take with you on a walk or to keep handy to talk to your family about.

Natural Beauty Is Not Just In The Eye Of The Beholder

From the moment you go under the Orwell Bridge and see the river winding along a bountiful landscape you instinctively know we are in an amazingly special part of the country. 

Therefore, it is no surprise to learn a large swathe of the Shotley peninsula is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Currently the Suffolk Coast and Heaths part of peninsula is mainly focused on the river Orwell side, and stretched up as far as Kessingland in north Suffolk.

Not only covering beautiful, unspoiled views, the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB formed in 1990. consists mainly of mud flats, countryside, shingle beach, heathlands, forest, estuaries, and iconic coastal towns and villages, covering some 155 square miles. 

 The peninsula landscape is packed with an abundance of migrating and indigenous birds, wildlife, flora and fauna, attracted by the rich and bountiful soil, mudflats and woodlands.

AONB staff and volunteers and committee members champion the conservation and protection of areas such as the peninsula and provide the lead on key issues in the area.

This includes, extending the AONB boundary to encompass most the remaining part of the peninsula, and going across the river Stour into Essex.

It is also an important player in the consultations regarding the upcoming Sizewell C development plans, Scottish Power Renewables projects, and other wind farm projects.

The AONB team has compiled a management plan to try and protect the area, especially with the Government pushing ahead with housing targets, which districts are obliged to meet.

Given the amount of planning developnet applications coming forward the SCH and Dedham vale AONB teams, have appointed a dedicated planning officer to scrutinise and comment on proposals.

One objective is to be as inclusive to the community as possible and highlight the importance and value the AONB adds to the area, in terms of protection and conservation. 

The AONB can also add value to the economy in terms of tourism, managed in a sustainable and positive manner. With a regular printed newspaper, a wide range of Explorer Guides and leaflets, visitors are well served with walking routes, supported by the Walkers Are Welcome initiative.

 Suffolk County Council hosts the AONB team chaired by David Wood (pictured holding leaflets in both hands left), but it is supported by Babergh District Council, Defra, Suffolk Coast, Waveney and Tendring district councils, Ipswich Borough Council and Essex County Council.

The AONB board is made up of Joint Advisory Committees from SCH and DV, with local members Derek Davis and Alastair McCraw giving the peninsula representation.  

For more information, detailed maps and latest updates click here for the Suffolk Coast and Heaths website.

* Each year the Stour & Orwell Estuaries Management Group holds a public forum, which is a popular event in the calendar.  It is the Group's main opportunity to communicate its work to the public and to hear directly from local communities.  Is well-attended by the Parish Councils around the estuaries and from further afield too.  Lively discussions on key issues of the day are guaranteed.

This year’s Stour & Orwell Forum 2018 will be held on the morning of Tuesday 17th July, at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, Marine Rd, Woolverstone, IP9 1AT. 

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