A PARISH council wants to see a nature reserve designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

White Colne Parish Council has contacted Halstead Town Council in the hope the Colne Valley can be put forward for the label.

There are currently 34 places in England with the designation which means natural beauty must be considered when decisions are made about housing developments and road building.

Jane Taylor, the chair of White Colne Parish Council, said the matter was discussed at a parish meeting.

Mrs Taylor: "The subject came up when we were concerned about the amount of new development across the area which will increase traffic along the A1124 through the valley and have an impact on us all.

"We believe the Colne Valley is a beautiful area with wonderful wildlife and walks alongside the river and through the bluebells woods.

"Being awarded an AONB would increase the kudos of the area, bring in more people to enjoy the views, the walking, the viaduct the museums in Chappel and Earls Colne and all the natural assets."

The parish council has also contacted neighbouring parishes to see whether they would support a bid to get the area the designation.

Mrs Taylor explained: "It would be good for businesses such as pubs, bed and breakfasts and shops.

"In addition it might help White Colne and other villages through the valley to protect this unique environment and prevent new building that would affect the beauty of the valley."

A decision on whether a place is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is made by Natural England but the application process can take up to 20 years.

Mrs Taylor said: "The 20 year process is quite daunting and disappointing.

"One would hope that in the near future this process will be speed up as otherwise the whole point of preserving natural beauty could be lost in time."

Halstead Town Council is set to decide whether to pursue the project when it meets on Monday.