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Sustainable Communities

Communities in the Norfolk Coast make up an important aspect of its character. To maintain that character, traditions and ways of life need to be passed on, and people with local connections should be able to continue to live and work in that area if they wish.

The Norfolk Coast needs to remain a living, working area with a thriving local economy and communities, while retaining the qualities that so many people cherish. Local people and businesses can all contribute to keeping the area special and fulfilling the designation criteria.

Town and Parish Councils

Town and Parish Councils, along with local residents and businesses within the Area can play an important role in meeting the statutory purpose of designating the area as an AONB – the conservation and enhancement of its natural beauty – and in promoting sustainable use and enjoyment of that natural beauty.

As public bodies, parish and town councils have a statutory duty of regard towards the AONB.

The Norfolk Association of Local Councils (Norfolk ALC) is a member based organisation open to all Parish Councils, Town Councils and Parish Meetings in Norfolk. It represents over 400 Parish and Town Councils in the county.

The Association protects and promotes the interests, rights, functions and privileges of members in the performance of their duties and seeks to promote and develop the social, cultural and recreational life of their areas. They also promote a widespread and well-informed interest in local government. They are the first point of contact for all member councils in need of free advice on legal, financial and procedural matters. Questions and queries will be answered either by their staff or by national specialists depending on its nature and complexity.

Contact details: Tel: 01603 638495 Email: [email protected]

Get Involved in Sustainability

There are opportunities for everyone to keep the area special and maintain the qualities for which it was designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. In this section we aim to give you advice, that may help you improve your local area. Whether you can offer a little or a lot of time there are ways in which you can help look after the coast for future generations to enjoy.

Get involved in Planning

The Town and Country Planning System is important for managing development in protected areas. Development isn’t prohibited in the Area but it should be managed carefully and with due regard to the purpose of designation – the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty.

The system includes public consultation on draft plans and planning applications, so anyone can participate and use it to help to care for the area’s special landscape and settlement, the vitality and character of its communities, and its unique wildlife.

Information about local planning and taking part in consultation on local plans and planning applications can be found in our Planning section.

Get Involved in the Dark Skies Project

The Norfolk Coast boasts some of the last remaining truly dark skies and landscapes in England. Minimal major development, industry or major trunk roads in these parishes result in a lack of artificial light. This in turn, helps to retain its rural character and feeling of  tranquillity, with stunning views of the stars above and a closer connection to nature. All of which draw people to either to live, work or visit the area.

Darkness provides a multitude of benefits:

It is essential for people and wildlife, by maintaining a 24-hour cycle of night and day – natural biorhythms which people and animals have adapted to since time began. A dark night-time allows us to sleep and to rest, ready for the next day. It relieves stress and allows our immune system to replenish itself.

Wildlife uses darkness to navigate, hide from predators, hunt for prey; for breeding, feeding or migration.  Nocturnal pollinators like moths, beetles and bats take over from bees and butterflies when they turn in for the night – the importance of which is something we are only now beginning to understand.  A walk at night allows us to tap into all of our senses and feel much closer to nature. Also, by choosing the right kind of lighting (or none at all) for properties or streetlighting, will lead to cost savings and a reduction in CO2 emissions.

Increasing light pollution is an issue which threatens the tranquillity of this area. However, it is one of the easiest environmental pollutions to reverse by removing or carefully re-directing a light source.

During our annual Dark Skies Festival there are varied activities for you to get involved in. Follow the festival here and join in on social media.

Living More Sustainably

There are a range of activities we can do individually, as a family or as a community that will help improve our local area and have positive benefits to the environment.


You don’t have to be a keen gardener or have a big garden to make compost. You can make compost using kitchen scraps. The finished compost will make an excellent soil improver for flower beds, vegetable plots and plant containers.

Local Authority links and information to get you started:
Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk >
Great Yarmouth Borough Council >
North Norfolk District Council >
Norfolk County Council >


Recycling can really make a difference.

  • It conserves resources by reducing the need to consume natural resources and raw materials and so protects natural habitats for the future.
  • It saves energy by using considerably less total energy than that required for producing new products from raw materials.
  • It helps protect the environment by reducing the need for extracting, refining and processing raw materials all of which create substantial air and water pollution.
  • It saves energy, which helps to tackle climate change. Current UK recycling is estimated to save more than 18 million tonnes of C02 a year the equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the road.
  • It reduces the amount of rubbish sent to landfill sites across the UK.

Some useful links: Recycle for Norfolk has loads of useful ideas and help plus a fun learning zone.

Links to Local Authority recycling webpages: Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk; Great Yarmouth Borough Council, North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk County Council.

Leave your car at home

Consider leaving your car at home or at your holiday accommodation to reduce carbon omissions and congestion and instead use coastal bus service or vast network of public footpaths, walking routes and cycleways.

Buy local products

Buying local food is beneficial because produce can be fresher, it supports the local economy, you can keep in touch with the seasons and, it can be fun discovering the producers of the food and traditional crafts that make the Norfolk coast special.

Our local produce directory will give you a flavour of the many producers and outlets within the Area.

Become a citizen scientist for wildlife

Here are a range of surveys to be involved in:

BTO Abnormal Bird Plumage Survey

The BTO website has regular and seasonal wildlife surveys and recording opportunities to take part in.

Mammal Monitoring

The Mammal Society needs volunteers to get involved and help survey small mammal populations in the UK.

Amphibians or Reptiles in Your Garden

The Amphibian & Reptiles groups of the UK are interested in finding out what people have seen. Please click here to submit your sightings.

Norfolk Cetaceans

Norfolk Cetaceans has information about the Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises seen from the coasts of Norfolk. Find out what has been seen in the past, the latest sightings and how to identify what you have seen and how to report your own sightings. Click here to submit your sightings.

Freshwater species

Many people have less contact with freshwaters than they do with terrestrial habitats like woodlands and meadows.

The Freshwater Habitats Trust has a varied programme of surveys to take part in.


Surveys in urban and rural areas indicate falling numbers of hedgehogs.

Hedgehog Street are asking people to become Hedgehog Champions to rally support from their neighbours and work together to create ideal hedgehog habitat throughout their street, estate or communal grounds.

Further advice on hedgehogs can be found at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk.

10 Ways to Help Keep Communities Alive on the Norfolk Coast

In addition to the magnificent landscapes, communities are what make the Norfolk Coast special.

Whether you live here permanently, for a few months or just for a few weeks each year, here are ten ways you can help your community thrive:

1. Don’t leave homes empty
If you are not there year-round, consider short term or holiday letting; long term lets to local people; or family and friends lets. Try to extend the season so that the local economy benefits from people all year round. If you make your property a business you will need to register it as such with the local authority for business rates.

2. Spend your money locally
Buy local products; information from the Local Products Directory. If you rent out your house, share information about local specialities Discover local shops and use them for basics as well as special items. Make suggestions to shop owners regarding goods or services you’d like to see. Use local tradespeople to maintain your home and garden; use Trading Standards to find local trusted traders. If you run a local business, consider opening at times that suit visitors, like certain evenings or at weekends.

3. Travel sustainably
Help provide community transport by volunteering for a local car driving charity. Use public transport, especially outside peak times if possible, as this helps relieve pressure on rural buses. Provide information on public transport for others who stay in your home. Seek out your local footpaths and walk them; help maintain them too with Norfolk Trails.

4. Be part of the community
Set up or join local neighbourhood associations: share your expertise, experience and ideas. If you don’t live in your home year round, make links with local people, pick up your post, and update your contact details regularly when away. Maintain a ‘virtual presence’ through online channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Streetlife.

5. Understand your Norfolk Coast
Find out about local traditions, events and issues; if you have information and have lived in the area a long time, share what you know and welcome others. get involved in parish plans, go to local events; support local culture; if it’s not possible to be present be inventive and support in other ways.

6. Make your voice heard
Join in community life: volunteer, work together on common projects. Find out about your local parish council; observe a meeting; stand for election if appropriate. Look into whether you can vote: it is possible to be registered to vote in more than one place, as long as you don’t vote more than once in the same election. Contact your local district council elections office to discuss further and find out if you can register.

7. Keep your place special
Get together with other people in your community to bring together information and communicate it to relevant planning authorities. If you are doing building work, research appropriate treatments – ensure conversion work ensures the preservation of architectural heritage and helps create and maintain local jobs. Take care to include environmental impact and mitigation work in development so improvements do not spoil the area.

8. Ensure your safety
Be aware of flood alerts, meet your local warden, and join voluntary flood warden scheme. If you have a swimming pool, sign up for safety checks with your local district council. advice available on crime prevention at https://www.norfolk.police.uk/advice

9. Watch your waste
Stay up to date with recycling procedures and make sure your home has the latest information on what goes where and when. When out and about, always dispose of waste, including any bagged dog waste, in bins.

10. Stay in touch and secure
Build a good neighbourhood network to look out for each other. Have a trusted neighbour who is a capable guardian, with a key for your property, to keep an eye on it. Make your home look occupied – don’t allow mail to accumulate. If you have an alarm ensure it is monitored either by an alarm company or a neighbour. You could sign up to the Norfolk Constabulary Keyholder scheme.

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