Farmers in an east Suffolk beauty spot have scooped a £116k grant to create six new orchards and miles of new hedgerows.

The Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape - which used to be known as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - has awarded £115,865 to the East Suffolk Farmer Group.

The cash - awarded through the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme which is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) - will be used to create the orchards and two miles of hedgerow to  improve biodiversity, soil quality, flood risk, and climate change resilience.

The large-scale project covers 10 farms measuring a total of 5,300ha on the Shotley, Felixstowe and Orford peninsulas.

East Anglian Daily Times:

A previous scheme resulted in 16 orchards being planted which are now "flourishing and in blossom", said Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape.

The grass between the orchard trees will only be cut annually to allow natural regeneration of wildflower and support species.

Members of the East Suffolk Farmer Group have joined forces to establish 3827m of new hedgerows to help strengthen wildlife corridors in the National Landscape.

These will link habitats and connect farms to support wildlife on a landscape scale.

The new hedge - made up of native trees - stretches inland from the River Orwell to connect with a wood and hedgerows along the way.

The hedge has been strategically positioned to connect with existing habitats and complement the landscape.

Both the new orchards and the hedgerows will provide shelter for wildlife and allow animals to move freely, as well as capturing carbon. Reducing runoff of rainfall will improve the quality of the soil, as will the change in land use.

Farming in Protected Landscapes officer Lynn Eldrett said:  "A fantastic, large project like this enables the farm cluster to work on a landscape scale and provides multiple benefits to our native wildlife, insects and plants in creating and protecting these important and vulnerable habitats."

The nationally-important Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape stretches from Kessingland in North Suffolk to the Stour Estuary at Wrabness in North Essex. 

The other National Landscape in Suffolk and Essex is the Dedham Vale National Landscape.