Five year plan drawn up for coast heritage

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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 the beauty spot fishing village of Staithes some 45 miles south to Scarborough, also plans to focus on beach and water quality and community issues.

It will link with funding organisations including 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 121 acres of coastal undercliff is being grazed to keep the scrub undergrowth in check on important wildflower sites and 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 has been investment of £500,000 in conservation work for coastal farms through Environmental Stewardship Schemes.

Information panels have been put up on coastal paths for the benefit of walkers and tourists and walks staged by Heritage Coast officers enable visitors to research fossils dating back 180 million years.

But Mr Beech added there is potential uncertainty ahead as Natural England consider what to do with the Heritage Coasts. A new five year plan is being drawn up with consultation events in coastal villages, seeking priorities from residents. A final draft will be produced in October and launched early next year.

A potential marine conservation zone is planned for Runswick Bay and there are also plans for inshore and offshore marine developments and mineral extraction.