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Latest news

LAST UPDATED  28 JANUARY 2021

Reintroduction of White-Tailed Eagles

The Roy Dennis Wildlife Trust and Wild Ken Hill, based in Snettisham, have launched a public consultation to obtain people's views on plans to reintroduce white-tailed eagles to West Norfolk and the surrounding area. The survey, along with a brief introduction to the project and a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), can be found here: https://forms.gle/2c2KkU5cPznPPBiE6

Digital Nature Experiences Study

The University of Exeter are undertaking a study to understand how digital nature experiences make us feel and how they could play a part in improving people's health and wellbeing.  Throughout the pandemic, many people have found it more difficult to get their daily nature fix, so the results of this study will be important in understanding how technology can be used to improve society's access to nature. The experiment takes about 10 minutes, and you get to enjoy a nature experience from the comfort of your home: https://canvas-story.bbcrewind.co.uk/soundscapesforwellbeing/.

Unique Norfolk purple sponge needs a name

The Marine Conservation Society's Agents of Change project is calling on local children to use their creativity to come up with a catchy name for a so far anonymous purple sponge found on North Norfolk's chalk reef. The sponge was recognised as special by volunteer Seasearch divers more than ten years ago.

Purple is an unusual colour in the marine environment, especially in the world of sponges where most are orange or yellow. Sponges may be simple animals, but a single species can be different colours and shapes, which can make identification tricky! Many sponges can only be identified using a microscope.

Sponge expert, Dr Claire Goodwin, then at National Museums Northern Ireland confirmed the sponge was new to science and part of the Hymedesmiidae family during a seaweed survey just off Sheringham and West Runton in 2011.

Sponges help to keep our seawater clean by filter feeding, consuming tiny particles of food that float by. There are over 11,000 different species globally and our purple one is 'encrusting', meaning it adopts the shape of whatever it covers. It lives in Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds Marine Conservation Zone, a precious area of local seabed that needs to be taken care of.

Every documented living thing on Earth has a 'scientific name' and many have 'common names'. Scientific names show where a species sits on the tree of life and usually use words of Latin or Greek origin. When a new species is discovered, it has to be described, classified and accepted by the scientific community to gain its own, unique scientific name. This lengthy and costly process hasn't happened yet for this special purple Norfolk resident.

In the meantime, the Agents of Change project wants to help the researchers by finding an inspiring 'common name' for this unusual animal, with assistance from local youngsters. Common names are the ones used every day for animals and plants. For example, the Edible crab, scientific name Cancer pagurus, lives all around Britain. Edible crabs caught locally are famously known as Cromer crabs. Because the purple sponge is unique to Norfolk, the winning common name may always be the first choice for everyone who ever discusses it!

The best name will be chosen carefully by an expert and interested panel. All the creative and colourful suggestions will compete to give this new underwater animal an identity it can be proud of… In truth, sponges are actually quite modest creatures so we can be proud on its behalf!

Schools, or home schooling parents, should register their interest by emailing Agents of Change Norfolk Coordinator Hilary Cox at hilary.cox22@gmail.com by 28th February 2021.

You can find out more about the purple sponge, and the search for its name, by watching this charming animation. The seabed is a fun place to be! http://youtu.be/A_LUb8OSfn0

Beach clean stations made from marine litter.

The 2 Minute Foundation, who have over 13 beach clean stations around the Norfolk coast, are looking for support for an innovative project. Here is their news:

Low grade waste, the kind of which is picked up on beach cleans, cannot be easily recycled and usually ends up in landfill or energy from waste. However, alongside a number of other organisations, including Reworked and The Ocean Recovery Project, we've discovered how to turn this low grade beach plastic into litter picking stations!

What's even better, this process is truly circular. By collecting plastic litter from beaches and turning it into beach cleaning equipment, we have found a way to make a completely closed-loop operation. The litter found on your favourite beach could be turned into a Station to in turn keep that beah clean and plastic pollution-free. 

The 2 Minute HQ team have pledged to collect these 3 tonnes before the end of lockdown, meaning we'll be able to crack on with the first 100 stations by spring. We'll be out collecting as much beach litter as we can find during our lockdown exercise time!

What's next?

  • We are looking for sponsors to help us roll out the stations all over the UK and beyond. 
  • We are looking for green transport to help us transport marine litter to our processor.
  • We are looking for volunteer beach cleaners who can gather and store marine plastic.
  • We are looking for funding to make the first 100 stations.

Contact nicky@2minute.org if you can help in any way.

Agriculture Bill becomes law

The Government's Agriculture Bill was introduced to Parliament in January this year and passed into UK law on 11 November. Beginning next year, farmers will have a seven year transition period to adapt to a new agricultural system. Further details will be announced in late November.

Thanks to the work of the National Association of AONBs (NAAONB) the term 'landscape' is included. Further details are at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/landmark-agriculture-bill-becomes-law

Stay safe national restrictions

A reminder from the Norfolk Coast that government rules don't permit travelling in or out of our local areas.

This is because COVID-19 case numbers are rising rapidly across the whole of the UK and in other countries. We must act now to control the spread of the virus. The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives.

Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences are not allowed. This includes holidays abroad and in the UK. It also means you cannot stay in a second home, if you own one, or stay with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with. There are specific exceptions, for example if you need to stay away from home (including in a second home) for work purposes, but this means people cannot travel overseas or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons.

We have some ideas for enjoying nature at home at: http://www.norfolkcoastaonb.org.uk/partnership/nature-connection-whilst-at-home/1226 

Dark skies and light pollution

Efforts to preserve our national dark skies and nightscapes and reduce light pollution have stepped up this year with the formation of a UK Dark Skies group comprising of many organisations in this sector including AONBs and National Parks (including ourselves).  On 9th December 2020 a newly formed All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dark Skies published its Ten Dark Sky Policies. This calls on the Government to take action to reverse the rapid growth of light pollution, challenges the existing legal framework within planning, tackles rules for outdoor lighting and emphasises the need for public awareness required to reduce light pollution:  

Policy Plan — APPG for Dark Skies (appgdarkskies.co.uk). Following this on Monday 14th December, the APPG secured a debate in the House of Commons on dark skies: https://youtu.be/oKIMRtkKtAU

If you are interested in learning more about dark skies and light pollution you can watch this very useful webinar 'Saving our Night Skies – Reducing Light Pollution' https://youtu.be/lftsD1Q2YwY

Finally, a date for your diary.. we will be running our 3rd Dark Skies Festival in the Norfolk Coast and Broads area between Saturday 25th September – Sunday 10th October 2021 where we aim to have a mix of face-to-face and online events for you to take part in. More information on this to follow in due course.

New NCP small grant fund now open

We are pleased to advise that the Norfolk Coast Partnership Small Grant Fund is officially open. We are now able to offer small grants of between £500-£3,000 for local, community projects which bring environmental benefits to the Norfolk Coast area of outstanding natural beauty and its communities. Projects which encourage people of diverse ethnicities, age groups and accessibility needs to experience and enjoy the area would be particularly welcomed. For further details see http://www.norfolkcoastaonb.org.uk/partnership/ncp-small-grant-fund/1227 

Diversity Outdoors

If you missed One to One at 09:30 on Radio 4 - Mya-Rose Craig was talking to Rhiane Fatinikun of Black Girls Hike - listen again at https://bbc.in/2RPUNfG .In the first of two programmes exploring how we can increase diversity outdoors in the rural landscape, 18 year old Mya-Rose Craig, aka Birdgirl, talked to Rhiane Fatinikun about Black Girls Hike which she founded about a year ago to enable black women to benefit from the comradery of other black women and enjoy the tranquillity of rural areas.

Norfolk Coast AONB Scout & Guide Challenge Badge

The Norfolk Coast Partnership are pleased to bring you a Norfolk Coast Challenge for Scout and Guiding members of all ages. This challenge resource has been approved by Norfolk Scouts and Girlguiding Norfolk Commissioners and all activity link providers. There is a lovely unofficial/non-uniform/blanket badge available to purchase for all who take part.

The Challenge consists of;

  • Taking part in at least 4 activities from our partnership members - we've recommended age groups but feel free to mix and match
  • Getting out and exploring by visiting at least one site within the AONB - why not stay in the area on a residential or even sleep out under the stars?

At present (March 2020) strict travel restrictions are in place due to coronavirus which will obviously result in groups currently being unable to visit the Norfolk coast. However, most of the activities in the challenge from the Norfolk Coast Partnership are suitable for Scouting and Guiding members to do at home. Once groups can start meeting again, how great would a visit or sleepover at one of our beautiful coastal venues be!

Feel free to share the activity links and downloads with your Scut and Guide groups and help them stay connected with nature at this time. Do let us see what they have been up to via Twitter @NorfolkAONB or by email to aonb@norfolk.gov.uk (with photo permission of course).

Climate taking action on the Norfolk Coast

A coast-based bid is the latest in the Norfolk Coast Partnership's efforts to mitigate climate crisis in one of the UK's most beautiful and vulnerable places

The Norfolk Coast area of outstanding natural beauty, a diverse, precious area designated under law as a national landscape, special for everyone, is exposed to the climate crisis. Sea levels are rising, the dynamic coast is shifting and extreme weather events are ever more common.

The Norfolk Coast Partnership is working on projects to adapt to and mitigate for these changes and to build environmental and community resilience.

Estelle Hook, Norfolk Coast Partnership Manager, said: "Today, if no consolidated and serious action is taken to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions we are headed for a dramatic change to our coastal landscape."

"Across our area, there are stories of hope – from the clean energy of windfarms, to protecting species at risk; from helping people to understand nature and change, to farmers working together for their local river. There are increasing calls for more cycle paths, footpaths and for the necessity to build in low carbon living."

"Actions we have taken include developing with partners a Norfolk Coast Climate Change Adaptation plan, publishing an edition of our Norfolk Coast Guardian focussed entirely on climate change this year and applying for funding for climate change projects."

The Norfolk Coast Partnership has just submitted a bid to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund for a project called 'Greening the Edge'. This project is about the underappreciated, incredibly valuable biodiversity which exists in community spaces on the coast. A diverse range of community volunteers will build understanding of their local environment, undertaking regular biodiversity audits in their parishes, gardens, common land, open access areas and school grounds. The data collected will contribute towards the first ever comprehensive Norfolk Coast AONB biodiversity audit, and help to make predictions about the changes it faces.

Most importantly, people will be informed and empowered to have a voice in planning the significant adaptation and mitigation required for nature resilience, building the connectivity crucial to landscape-scale survival.

If you are interested in being part of this project, please email aonb@norfolk.gov.uk.

Climate crisis: some facts

Carbon makes up around 80% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. These have been falling, thanks to cleaner power sources. But the rates are too slow: including aviation, shipping, imports and exports our total carbon emitted shows a fall of only 10% since 1990.

Per head, estimated CO2 emissions in the UK declined from 8.7 to 5.4 tonnes/person between 2005 and 2016. Closer to home, Norfolk went from having below UK average per capita CO2 emissions in 2005 to above in 2016 (5.7 tonnes/person) due to its increasing levels of road transport.

Worldwide, governments have recognised the crisis, and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  Paris agreement was a commitment to take actions to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees.

By 2050 at the latest, and ideally by 2040, we must have stopped emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than earth can naturally absorb through its ecosystems. Our global greenhouse gas emissions must be clearly in decline by the early 2020s (in other words, now) and reduced by at least 50% by 2030.

Planning for Housing within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) is the collective voice of the AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards and represents the AONB network on issues of strategic national importance.  Read their key messages and position statement http://www.norfolkcoastaonb.org.uk/partnership/planning-development/1055

Office update

23 March 2020

Due to coronavirus restrictions, Norfolk Coast Partnership staff are home working, or may be absent, and this could lead to some delays in answering calls and responding to emails. We are not checking the office phone for messages. Please use email as first choice of communication. Our general office email is aonb@norfolk.gov.uk. We will do our best to ensure that our online shop orders are sent out, but inevitably some delays are likely. Thank you for your patience.

2020 Norfolk Coast Guardian

Illustration for Latest news

Our 2020 edition of the Norfolk Coast Guardian has been published. Paper copies will be available as soon as social distancing restrictions to protect us all from Covid-19 are lifted.

In the meantime do enjoy the online version: Norfolk Coast Guardian 2020. or order your copy via our online shop 

New film to help protect Norfolk seals

The Norfolk Coast Partnership has launched a new film this week in a bid to help protect new born seal pups on the coast.

The film's release comes after two pups died at Winterton due to human intervention last week. Made by students at City College Norwich, The Grey Seals of Horsey tells the story of the efforts to look after one of the UK's most successful breeding seal colonies.

Students Ellen Sherwood, Sam Askew and Joe Ewing filmed the Friends of Horsey Seals wardens group guarding the 'rookery' as a group of seals is known.

The Norfolk Coast Partnership commissioned the film to help explain the key points – that the seals are magical but to protect them all visitors need to listen to wardens, keep to the paths and a distance of an absolute minimum of 10 metres away – at least the length of a bus - and stay on the landward side of the seals. The pups are vulnerable to disturbance and we are all responsible for them.

Peter Ansell, chair of Friends of Horsey Seals, said: "We have this year 250 volunteer Wardens in total sharing the patrolling from Horsey to Winterton, and although the situation at Horsey is quite stable, the pups at Winterton, now double the amount of last year at 500, are causing concern as they spread into the dunes and further south towards the car park. My message is for Winterton visitors to be extra vigilant as a large number of seals and pups are almost invisible until the last minute, and please, if you have to take dogs along, ensure they are kept on a very short leash."

The 10-minute film was made by Twin Panda Productions, a company formed by students on the Media Learning Company course at City College Norwich. Short clips featuring the most important seal watching advice are also being produced to share on social media.

The Grey Seals of Horsey is available to view at https://youtu.be/XuTb8MsDIz0

Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund

Defra group is developing a natural environment Investment Readiness Fund (IRF) to support the development of natural environment projects that can generate revenue from ecosystem services and attract repayable investment. From 2021, this three-year £10 million programme will provide grants which project developers can use to build capacity and procure the specialist support and advice they need to develop their natural environment projects to an investable level.
Investment Readiness Fund Overview Document

Click to complete a short survey which should take less than 5 minutes to register your interest in the IRF, receive updates of developments and choose to be involved in the design of the fund.

The survey will be available until close of business on 30 September 2020
For any further queries please contact; IRF@environment-agency.gov.uk

Natural England status report

Government's advisor, Natural England, have produced a report on the condition of the North Norfolk coast's natural environment following an evidence-based review assessing the condition at the coastal landscape scale. This is a new and different approach from site based monitoring. Find the report here.

Defra's 25 year plan

Defra's 25-year environment plan 'A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to
Improve the Environment'  is available on the www.gov.uk website at www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/673203/25-year-environment

Identifying Quaternary Local Sites for Norfolk Planners

Can you help the Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership? Norfolk has 41 SSSIs designated primarily for their Quaternary interest (making 39% of the regional total) and also has a wealth of sites outside the SSSI system which also deserve consideration by planners as County Geodiversity Sites (CGS). Since 2008, the Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership https://sites.google.com/site/norfolkgeodiversity/home has audited these local sites and has identified a shortlist of 303 candidate CGS which have primary features of Quaternary interest. We need to transfer spatial information about these sites onto the County Council's GIS system so that they can be identified in the planning system. Further details click here.

Development in AONBs

A debate in the House of Commons about development in the AONB received this response from the DCLG (now DHCLG!): "Areas of outstanding natural beauty have the highest status of environmental protection in the national planning policy framework, which states: "Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty". In the year to March 2016, only 0.2 per cent of the Chilterns AONB was given to residential buildings. I can confirm that the Government are committed to retaining this protection, and it will not be weakened through our planning reforms. The interpretation of the NPPF protection for AONBs is in the first instance for the local authority to determine and thereafter, if relevant, for the planning inspector."

See the 1st PMQs of the 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvABRub3_io&index=1&list=PL40441042C458B62B