A scheme aimed at saving thousands of pubs from closure is being stepped up as new figures revealed suburban areas are being worst hit by the dwindling number of locals.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is targeting 3,000 pubs in England for listing as so-called Assets of Community Value (ACV), which offers them protection against closing.

Around 800 pubs already have ACV status, but Camra hopes this number will increase significantly by the end of 2016.

ACV pubs will be given a "badge of honour", including literature and stickers to display on their premises.

Camra said 29 pubs closed every week in the UK in the past year, with 17 in suburban areas.

The new campaign will be launched at today's Great British Beer Festival in London by Community Pubs Minister Marcus Jones, who said: "The Great British pub is a national treasure which is why we brought in new powers so people can help protect their local by listing it as an asset of community value.

"Hundreds of communities have seized this opportunity and I am delighted this is being recognised today.

"There is an increasing confidence in the sector with community ownership of public houses starting to take off and the boom in Great British brewing.

"However, we must be realistic that planning rules alone cannot keep pubs open which are not making money, therefore this Government's broader strategy of lower taxes, less regulation and a growing economy is the best way to support a thriving and diverse sector."

Tim Page, Camra's chief executive, said: "Pubs achieve ACV status by local people coming together and listing the pub as an asset. It is a badge of honour, a mark of quality and a crystal clear sign that the pub is valued by locals.

"With pub closure figures remaining high, and new figures showing seventeen suburban pubs are lost each week, it's even more vital that pubs are given protection by the Government and that communities are given a say before they are demolished or converted."