A LONG-awaited beauty title could be just months away for the Manningtree’s side of the River Stour after a 25-year fight for action.

A consultation has been launched over plans to extend the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to parts of Tendring.

It would see the south of the River Stour given extra protection, including the waterfront from Manningtree right along to the edge of Parkeston, including Mistley, Bradfield and Wrabness.

The northern banks of the River Stour, in Suffolk, already have the designation, and campaigners have been pressing for it to be extended to the Essex side for decades.

Carlo Guglielmi,Tendring councillor for Manningtree and Mistley, said he has been pushing for the special title since he was first elected in 2007.

He said: “This is really good news, it’s a long time coming. The consultation is the very last step before Natural England will make a decision - probably a few months to go.

“It was in the 1970s that the other side of the river was given AONB status.

“Tendring Council has been collaborating with Suffolk Coast and Heaths for a number of years for an extension. It’s another layer of protection, it ensures what gets built fits in with AONB policies.

“It will also mean people will be more attracted to the area – you go to Flatford and Dedham and it’s swarming with people.”

Mr Guglielmi added that it could also help bring more funding to the area.

Tendring Council has been working on getting the AONB title since 1993, and an official application was put forward in 2010.

Some inland areas would also be included, such as Wrabness Woods and land stretching up from the coastline up to 2km inland in some areas.

More information on the plans, including a map showing the proposed extension area, can be viewed at Harwich and Manningtree libraries.

Natural England is holding a public drop-in event at the Venture Centre, in Lawford, from 10am to 3.30pm on Wednesday, February 21.

For more information about the plans and to have your say, visit consult.defra.gov.uk/natural- england/suffolk-coast-and-heaths-aonb or email sc&haonbdesignationproject@naturalengland .org.uk to request a consultation pack.

The public consultation runs until April 2 and Tendring District Council is urging people to have their say. Neil Stock, Tendring District Council leader, said it was important that people took part in the consultation.:“It is key that residents’ and businesses’ views are heard on these proposals.” he said.

“Whether you think the proposed extension meets the requirements and is desirable or not, make sure your voice is heard.”