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Councils planning to protect the future of The Brecks

Press Release from Norfolk County Council and Suffolk County Council

Norfolk County Council and Suffolk County Council are working together on plans to protect the future of one of country’s most unique landscapes.

The Brecks spans both Norfolk and Suffolk and is currently managed by The Brecks Fen Edge & Rivers Landscape Partnership Scheme. The scheme is hosted by Suffolk County Council, and has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund since 2017, with a £1.9 million grant and match funding from a wide partnership. It is supported by more than 60 local, regional and national groups, as well as many volunteers.

However, the scheme will come to a close in December 2024, so the councils commissioned a study last summer to consider the long-term future of The Brecks, and to identify options for how best to manage the area going forward.

A new study recommended both councils should jointly lead on a new plan for the Brecks, to find an innovative way to manage this unique landscape and position The Brecks to be recognised as a new type of National Landscape in England.

The Brecks is an invaluable part of the UK’s landscape, covering nearly 400 square miles:

  • Over 40% of the landscape is covered by conservation areas
  • Nearly 13,000 species have been recorded in the area
  • 28% of the UK’s rarest species are found there
  • It contains Thetford Forest and Kings Forest, making the largest lowland forest in the UK
  • It is home to eight registered parks and gardens, 157 scheduled monuments and over 1,000 listed buildings

Councillor Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Environment, said:

“We have a unique chance to create a new way to manage and support The Brecks, building on decades of success. The natural environment is of course at the core of the project, but there is the potential to go much further. There are opportunities to involve heritage, communities, businesses and recreation.

“Successful management of The Brecks in recent years has been due to dozens of interested parties with a wide range of interests, coming together around a central vision and plan, most recently facilitated by a small, focused team at Suffolk County Council. This is a model we all aspire to for the future.”

Wendy Brooks, Head of Environment at Norfolk County Council, said:

“The Brecks has the potential to make a significant contribution to the government’s ambition to enhance nature recovery in England. More than 1.5 million people visit, walk and cycle in The Brecks each year. It’s not only a haven for wildlife and plants, but somewhere that benefits the physical and mental health of the people who spend time there. It is a huge community asset, with many organisations and businesses wanting to be a part of its future.”

The next steps are for the councils to develop the management model following recommendations from the study. This will include looking at funding opportunities, legal structure and governance, to protect and manage The Brecks in the long term.

More information on the Brecks Option study process, findings, and recommendations can be found here: Brecks Options Study.