Improvement plans along our coastline

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A new five-year plan for the Yorkshire Heritage Coast is to be drawn up with the aim of improving its economy, conservation and recreation facilities.

The North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast, which stretches from Scarborough to Staithes, also plans to focus on beach and water quality and community issues by linking with funding organisations include the EU’s LEADER funding programme and Local Enterprise Partnerships, said John Beech, the project officer.

Several local authorities and government agencies are involved in the scheme, led by Natural England the Government’s conservation agency, and which is one of 46 around the British coastline.

In the past five years the Heritage Coast Programme has seen 10.5 miles of farm hedgerows planted on the Yorkshire coast landscape - nearly 110,000 trees and 1.7 miles of traditional dry stone walls rebuilt, through the North York Moors National Park grant scheme.

“Almost 50 hectares - equivalent of 121 acres - of coastal undercliff is being grazed to keep the scrub undergrowth in check on important wildflower sites,” said Mr Beech.

In addition, 3,550 metres of watercourses have been fenced to prevent pollution going into coastal rivers, and drinking troughs have been provided for livestock.

Seven new ponds have been created and improvement work carried out to two large freshwater areas for wildlife such as wading birds, dragonflies and amphibians. One of the biggest success stories in the past five years’ programme has been the investment of more than £500,000 in conservation work for coastal farms through Environmental Stewardship Schemes, said Mr Beech.

Mr Beech said there is potential uncertainty ahead. “Natural England are considering what to do with the Heritage Coasts. They are not a statutory duty designation and therefore currently not a priority.”

However, he said the aim is to draw up a programme for a new five-year plan and to hold consultation events in coastal villages, seeking priorities from residents. A final draft will be produced in October, and the new plan launched early next year. A potential marine conservation zone is planned for the popular seaside village of Runswick Bay, with special protection area designation for Filey Bay.