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Who cares for our Suffolk countryside?

PUBLISHED: 10:29 21 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:54 20 February 2013

Who cares for our Suffolk countryside?

Who cares for our Suffolk countryside?

The good news is that there is a whole host of groups and organisations out there whose sole aim is ensuring a bright future for Suffolk and its wildlife habitats. David Green explains the set up

The good news is that there is a whole host of groups and organisations out there whose sole aim is ensuring a bright future for Suffolk and its wildlife habitats. David Green explains the set up




Who is doing most to help protect and enhance Suffolks environment?
The answer is a whole army of officials and volunteers.
Legal requirements over environmental protection are enforced by the Environment Agency, the official watchdog in charge of pollution control, water management, radioactive waste disposal and coastal defence strategy, and Natural England, the Governments wildlife advisory agency. Both have multi-million pound budgets.
But voluntary organisations have a strong and influential presence in Suffolk while private companies are increasingly looking to green their operations for cost cutting as well as image reasons and to put something back into the environment by sponsoring conservation work and providing practical help.
The countys local authorities have a range of statutory duties to protect the landscape and its wildlife and all district and borough councils are involved in a county council initiative called Suffolk Creating the Greenest County which promotes green thinking through all aspects v of local life. Each year the project holds a prestigious awards ceremony recognising the efforts of schools, organisations, companies and individuals.
While the district and borough councils are the planning authorities, the Suffolk Preservation Society acts as an unofficial watchdog, working to try to preserve the countys local distinctiveness, by resisting change it sees as harmful and calling for good design in new development. It has a full-time director, Simon Cairns, and a headquarters in one of Lavenhams most beautiful and historic buildings.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, cares for more than 50 nature reserves throughout the county and also gives advice to local authorities, community groups and individuals.
Community wildlife projects are under way at a range of locations in east and west Suffolk including Wenhaston, Parham, Charsfield, Cavenham, Cotton and Market Weston.
The trust, which has its headquarters at Ashbocking, near Ipswich, runs a scheme which enables companies to directly participate in conservation work via staff work parties and sponsorship.
About 50 firms currently have corporate membership. They include electricity generator EDF, which pays the cost of providing wardens for the nature reserve next to its Sizewell B power station; Anglian Water, which is heavily involved in a Water for Wildlife project, and Carillion, the highway and streetlight maintenance firm, which is supporting the Suffolk Barn Owl project, providing its hydraulic street lighting access machinery to erect owl boxes on trees and elsewhere.
Work parties from Carillion and other firms have also been involved in the development of the new Snape Marshes nature reserve.
The Ipswich-based ISG Jackson construction company has helped sponsor the provision of a tool shed for the wildlife trusts mid-week volunteer team which works out of Ipswich while BT has provided green team working parties and Ipswich Building Society sponsors the trusts annual photographic competition and sells the trusts Christmas cards. One of the latest corporate members is Southwold Pier.
Michael Strand, trust spokesman, said: Businesses also use our centres for training venues and meetings often followed by a guided walk or some such thing.
Suffolk companies have also become independently involved in environmental initiatives.
Adnams, the Southwold brewer, has made green standards part of its corporate identity and, as well as creating more environmentally friendly buildings and processes, has marketed a range of low carbon beers.
Its latest environmental foray is to set up a plant which uses brewery and local food waste to produce gas which, after further processing, is being fed into the national grid. The gas will eventually be used to help power the brewery and its transport fleet.
Two new wind turbines to be erected on the former Eye Airfield this year will provide green electricity to the nearby Roy Humphrey Group.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
has seven Suffolk nature reserves extending across a total of more than 6,500 acres of land and water. The reserves, which include the internationally important Minsmere site, are primarily managed for birds but the work benefits many other kinds of wildlife. The Suffolk coastal strip has the highest density of RSPB membership, based on population figures, in the whole of England and Wales.
The coastal strip is, arguably, Suffolks most important landscape and its management is overseen by the local authority funded Suffolk Coast and Heaths Unit, which has its offices at Melton, near Woodbridge.
Staff are engaged in a number of initiatives aimed at protecting and enhancing the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and promoting its qualities. A scheme called Connect enables both the local businesses, which benefit from tourism, and the visitors themselves the chance to raise or donate money for the upkeep of the area.
The Forestry Commission, a Government agency set up in the 1920s to provide timber for pit props, has in more recent years greened its policies to help create wildlife habitat and this is evident in the coastal belt and in Thetford Forest.
Suffolk has a very active branch of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, which provides conservation advice to its members, many of whom have signed up to agri-environment schemes administered by Natural England on behalf of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The Green Light Trust, based at Lawshall, near Bury St Edmunds, has been responsible for helping villages throughout Suffolk to create community woodlands.

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