8 March 2002

Farm to be heathland again

AN ARABLE farm near the East Anglian coast has been bought by conservation groups who intend to turn it back to heathland.

Mount Pleasant Farm at Dunwich in Suffolk adjoins the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds internationally important Minsmere bird reserve and the National Trust property at Dunwich Heath.

The two conservation groups are thought to have paid nearly £200,000 for the farm, previously owned by the British Energy power company.

The intention over the next few years is to farm the fields in a way which will deplete the level of nutrients in the soil and make it suitable for heathland reversion.

A local farmer, Sir Charles Blois, has been contracted to grow crops subject to limits on fertiliser use and a complete ban on the use of phosphates.

Total cost of the heathland reversion project will be £500,000, part of which is coming in the form of a £161,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"The purchase of the farm presented a rare opportunity to link areas of existing heathland into a larger and more viable ecological unit," said Chris Durdin, RSPB spokesman. &#42