18th December 2018
Yesterday Natural England regretfully de-declared part of the Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve at Blythburgh, comprising land that we previously leased from Sir Charles Blois.
In order for land to be declared as NNR it has to be managed for its nature conservation interest by either Natural England or an organisation or individual who has been granted ‘approved body status’ by Natural England under Section 35 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Natural England (and its predecessors) have leased about 50% part of the Suffolk Coast NNR from the Blois family since 1972, and have managed the land to maximise its wildlife interest according to the NNR management standards. Natural England leased part of the Suffolk Coast NNR from the Blois family under two separate leases; the main lease, covering 317ha (30% of the NNR) of heathland and woodland, ended on 18 January 2018 and a smaller lease (196ha of grazing marsh and reed bed, 20% of the NNR) which is still in place on a ‘hold over’ basis. The rest of the Suffolk Coast NNR is managed by Natural England though leases with other landowners and by other approved bodies; the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. These areas of land are not affected by this de-declaration and remain NNR.
Natural England has been in discussions with Sir Charles Blois and his agent regarding new lease terms since the sale of the Blythburgh estate fell through in Jan 2017. Unfortunately we have not been able to agree mutually agreeable terms that also achieve best value for public money.
With no ‘approved body’ managing the land previously covered by our main lease we regretfully have had to de-declare this land as NNR. This decision was approved by our Director of Operations (South) and National Operations Director as required by our Non-Financial Scheme of Delegation and Natural England Board were made aware of this intention in September 2018. The land continues to be notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Areas and as with all such sites the responsibility for managing the land to achieve and maintain favourable condition lies with the landowner. Natural England is keen to work with Sir Charles Blois to ensure suitable management of the land continues.
Manager – Norfolk and Suffolk Team
2 Gilders Way
We are here to secure a healthy natural environment for people to enjoy, where wildlife is protected and England's traditional landscapes are safeguarded for future generations.