Coastal funding change welcomed

A GOVERNMENT minister has announced a new funding arrangement which will help protect the north Northumberland coastline.

Richard Benyon, Minister for the natural environment and fisheries, confirmed that the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) is taking over the direct funding of the country’s areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) through a new tripartite agreement between Defra, Natural England and the National Association for AONBs.

Coun Pat Scott, chairman of the Northumberland AONB partnership, said: “I’m personally delighted because it shows the commitment of central government for the AONB family and, especially for Northumberland, it eases the pressure of funding.

“It’s very, very welcome and the direct funding from Defra removes a bit of the uncertainty.”

Mr Benyon said: “We need AONBs to ensure that our most important and treasured landscapes continue to thrive and are enjoyed by future generations. They are crucial to our environmental objectives.

“This is a new era for AONBs, and a new partnership that can unlock the full potential of our greatest resource – the people that care passionately about these areas”.