National Character Area 44

Central Lincolnshire Vale - Detailed Statements of Environmental Opportunity

This section expands on the Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity and provides further detail on each of the Statements of Environmental Opportunity.


SEO 1: Restore natural watercourse and flood plain functionality within the Vale, ensuring no harm to archaeological assets, and seek habitat creation and linkages and land management changes through the area, to improve resilience and ecosystem capacity to regulate water quality, regulate water flow and reduce soil erosion. This will also enhance riverine character, recreational experience and ecological connectivity.

For example by:

  • Where feasible, creating areas of wet grassland and other wetland habitats along watercourses, such as in the Ancholme Valley, to improve water quality and support the wildlife of the Humber Estuary.
  • Planning to adapt to the impacts of sea level rise which is likely to reduce the extent of freshwater habitat around the Humber in the longer term; and seeking opportunities to positively adapt by establishing a variety of wetland habitats within the Ancholme flood plain – where feasible – to partially compensate for loss.
  • Protecting and expanding, where feasible, existing wet grassland habitats such as along the River Bain. Exploring the potential to restore the corridor of the old River Bain and enhance associated habitat networks to link with important heathland and acid grassland.
  • Exploring the potential to convert some areas of arable land to other appropriate uses throughout the National Character Area (NCA) to enhance water quality, especially in the Ancholme Valley, including opportunities to re-wet areas and establish permanent vegetation.
  • Expanding the network of semi-natural wetland habitats, woodland, hedgerows and grassland adjacent to watercourses, field drains and waterbodies to capture sediment and nutrients.
  • Adapting existing drainage schemes and designing new sustainable drainage schemes to incorporate habitats to purify water and increase infiltration. Designing these in conjunction with green infrastructure.
  • Seeking high-quality restoration of gravel extraction sites within the Fen Edge Gravels which includes the creation of a varied habitat network, including wetland and heathland, for landscape enhancement and for the recreational opportunities this brings.
  • Promoting opportunities to encourage and enhance green infrastructure and access routes, along the rivers and streams to increase access to the countryside for public enjoyment.
  • In partnership, seeking to make space for the action of natural riverine processes, where feasible, to increase flood resilience and capacity to adapt to climate change within the Ancholme Valley, which will be impacted by rising sea levels from the Humber.


SEO 2: Protect and enhance the rural character and tranquillity of the Vale, much valued for their contribution to sense of place, inspiration and recreation. Ensure that new development is informed by local assessments, opportunity and mapping studies to help to minimise impact and maximise environmental gain through good design and appropriate screening, and promote green infrastructure links to ensure that the surrounding settlements have access to the many recreation assets which contribute to the health and wellbeing of both residents and visitors.

For example by:

  • Developing well-designed green infrastructure informed by local evidence – such as biodiversity opportunity mapping and landscape character assessment – and sustainable tourism which enables access and enjoyment of the Vale while protecting it from greater traffic and development.
  • Screening urban and industrial influences (such as gravel workings) with the use of substantial and appropriate woodland planting, and reducing the intrusion of development through means such as sensitive lighting and use of green roofs.
  • Maximising funding obtained from planning gain from new development and the resulting S106 agreements so that they benefit the natural environment and are aligned with the objectives of landscape planning and enhancement initiatives.
  • Ensuring that the location, form and design of new development are guided by Biodiversity Opportunity Mapping and Landscape Character Assessment objectives, village design guidance and design briefs, and use of local architectural styles and materials as well as sensitive lighting.
  • Ensuring that new development is built to high design quality and environmental standards, including routine use of sustainable drainage schemes to increase the capacity of water provision and regulation services and the incorporation of green infrastructure.
  • Planning for appropriate woodland planting around settlement fringes to help to integrate new and existing modern development into the landscape while combining with the development of green infrastructure, biomass, carbon storage and water flow and quality regulation. This could also provide additional benefits of reducing the potential negative visual impact of development such as lighting.
  • Supporting the implementation of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan ambition to develop an integrated network of rights of way, increasing facilities for visitors and residents for walking and other recreational activities, which will improve people’s health and wellbeing. The creation of circular footpaths and cycle paths that link with public transport and local communities will offer opportunities for sustainable transport and bring benefits to the rural economy and tourism.
  • Encouraging the sensitive management (including interpretation) of geodiversity sites (particularly former clay, sand and gravel workings) to raise awareness of the importance of local geology in shaping the history and settlement of the area.


SEO 3: Manage the valuable ancient lime woodlands, enhance and increase the woodland and hedgerow network, and seek to restore and re-create heathland and acid grassland, where appropriate, to strengthen ecological diversity and connectivity, enhance landscape character, improve soil and water quality, reduce soil erosion, increase carbon storage, and bring opportunities for timber and biomass provision.

For example by:

  • Informed by Central Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire Limewoods Biodiversity Opportunity Mapping, protecting, expanding and linking up the ancient woodlands of the Vale, especially the Limewoods, improving their management and raising awareness of their importance. Increasing native woodland planting should also enhance landscape character and ecosystem services, including the storage of carbon.
  • Enhancing Forestry Commission woodland sites to replace harvested conifer crops with native deciduous woodland as well as heathland/acid grassland habitats, where suitable.
  • Seeking opportunities, where appropriate, to increase the extent of heathland/acid grassland habitat.
  • Restoring and managing hedgerows where they have been lost to strengthen the historical field patterns as well as to help to regulate soil erosion and water quality, and use hedgerows to link up woodlands and semi-natural habitats.
  • Enhancing management of the woodlands to improve biodiversity and also to provide woodland products and a sustainable biomass and timber resource.
  • Enhancing the areas of coniferous plantation on the Coversands and Fen Edge Gravels, including planting broadleaved woodland along the edges to enhance their visual influence and to ensure that there is a balance between woodland and open heath.
  • Planning for a landscape depleted of ash through ash dieback by planting replacement characteristic tree species.
  • Maintaining the ecological value of the felled areas in the coniferous plantations which provide habitats for rare species such as woodlark, long-eared owl and nightjar, while ensuring that these areas do not have a negative impact on the landscape.
  • Seeking opportunities for woodland planting within green infrastructure and relating to new development and the urban fringe, especially in relation to Lincoln.
  • Seeking opportunities to incorporate tree planting in places where benefits to other ecosystem services will be maximised, such as within farmland areas to regulate soil and water quality and within flood plains to enhance water flow regulation.


SEO 4: Improve the environmental sustainability of agriculture within the Vale and enhance the capacity of natural ecosystems to support the long-term provision of food, improve soil quality, enhance water quality (especially in the Ancholme basin), provide habitat for pollinators, enhance farmland habitats and benefit climate regulation.

For example by:

  • Maximising take-up of environmentally sustainable farming practices and agri-environment schemes to enhance the landscape and ecosystem function and also support viable agricultural production.
  • Informed by the Central Lincolnshire Biodiversity Opportunity Mapping, restoring and creating new habitats throughout the agricultural landscape, especially grassland and wetland habitats, to strengthen ecological linkages and wildlife networks and to benefit delivery of other ecosystem services.
  • Reducing agricultural chemical inputs to minimise risk to water quality, for example through use of crops with low fertiliser and pesticide requirements.
  • Maximising opportunities to sustainably use wetland habitats for food provision, such as flood plain grazing marsh for cattle grazing.
  • Encouraging management measures that increase levels of organic matter in soils to increase fertility and drought resistance and the use of grass leys in arable crop rotations.
  • Maintaining habitats associated with mixed farming which supports a range of species, including vulnerable farmland bird species such as skylark, tree sparrow and yellowhammer.
  • Where possible, securing opportunities to convert some arable land to other appropriate uses throughout the NCA to enhance water quality, especially in the Ancholme Valley, including opportunities to re-wet areas and establish permanent vegetation.
  • Increasing the use of nectar and forage mixes in arable land and planting of species-rich hedgerows as well as the take-up of agri-environment schemes which floristically enhance field margins and hedgerow habitats, to increase the availability of nectar sources in proximity to food crops requiring pollination.
  • Carefully considering the timing and impact of agricultural activities on vulnerable soils and under vulnerable soil conditions, especially when wet. Also, encouraging the use of low-pressure machinery.


SEO 5: Protect and enhance the historic character of the Vale including the monastery sites, shrunken medieval villages, parklands and villages. Increase awareness of the richness of this resource, protect it from neglect and physical damage, and ensure that future development complements and enhances the sense of history.

For example by:

  • Protecting and appropriately managing existing historic assets.
  • Protecting the medieval earthworks and remains of the monastic sites along the Witham, the deserted medieval villages and areas of ridge and furrow for their educational and historic value, and ensuring that they are open for public enjoyment where possible.
  • Conserving areas of parkland for their historic value and ensuring that they provide access and recreation opportunities for public enjoyment where possible.
  • Protecting existing pasture containing archaeological features, including ridge and furrow, from conversion to arable use.
  • Reducing cultivation damage to archaeology and geomorphological features by encouraging best practice such as direct drilling and shallow tilling and conversion to permanent pasture.
  • Protecting the historical settlement pattern and vernacular character through informed spatial planning processes to secure high-quality design standards in new development, including the appropriate use of traditional building materials.
  • Ensuring that the restoration of traditional farm buildings and new in-fill developments use locally characteristic materials to protect the character of the built form.
  • Protecting the sense of history in the landscape from inappropriate development, including that which adversely affects the setting of historic features.
  • Positively managing and protecting the many listed buildings and Scheduled Monuments while promoting public awareness, accessibility and recreation value.
  • Promoting wider awareness of the historic environment to encourage its enjoyment, understanding and protection and, where possible, providing improved public access to sites of historic interest.
  • Protecting and enhancing elements of the historic farmland landscape, including the replanting of hedgerows, to restore historical field patterns and the restoration of traditional farm buildings.
  • Planning sand and gravel workings carefully to ensure that valuable historical assets are protected and interpreted in order to increase understanding as to how local geodiversity has shaped the history and visual appearance of the landscape today.

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