A SECTION of the countryside between Manningtree and Parkeston could get a long-awaited beauty title after an application was submitted to the Government.

Natural England has now made a formal request to the new Secretary of State for the Environment, Theresa Villiers, for the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to be extended to the southern shore of the River Stour around Manningtree and Mistley.

The move comes after a period of consultation, and has long been supported by both Tendring Council and the AONB Management Team.

Tendring Council joined the project in 1993, and although the area to the south of the Stour from Manningtree right along to the edge of Parkeston, including Mistley, Bradfield and Wrabness has long been considered part of the project, the land is not formally recognised.

If accepted into the AONB, it will allow farmers and landowners access to grants to help conserve and enhance the area while the staff team work with businesses, residents and others to help people enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Carlo Guglielmi, Tendring Council’s deputy leader who has been leading on this work, said this was a good step forward.

He said: “The government advisor on conservation, Natural England, has at last recognised what local residents have known for many years – that the Essex side of the River Stour is, at least, of equal beauty to that across the river in Suffolk.

“This is a major milestone in securing recognition of the natural beauty of the area and will bring huge benefits to the community.”

Councillor David Wood, who is Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Partnership Chairman, added: “We are delighted the Natural England board has made this recommendation.

“The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB attracts tourists and residents alike to enjoy the natural value of the area, and bringing in an additional area into the AONB will further the understanding and appreciation of the special qualities it offers.”

There is no specific timeline for the Secretary of State to confirm the order, and she can also call a public inquiry before making a decision.