National Character Area 41

Humber Estuary - 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: Protect and enhance the dynamic and inspiring estuarine and coastal landscape with its interrelated habitats of sand dunes, saltmarsh, reed beds, saline lagoons and mudflats, extending the internationally important habitats and the wildlife dependent upon them, while addressing coastal squeeze, climate change and dynamic coastal processes.

For example by:

  • Responding to rising sea levels by seeking opportunities to realign flood defences or provide soft flood defences, thus allowing the development of intertidal habitats to compensate for any losses arising from coastal squeeze, maintaining their role in storing carbon and ensuring that new sites are managed to enhance the biodiversity value of the estuary and contribute to its expansive landscape character.
  • Seeking opportunities to increase the extent of intertidal habitats – including saltmarsh, reedbeds and mudflats – to provide effective defences against wave energy and to protect and enhance biodiversity value.
  • Enabling the natural and dynamic coastal and estuarine processes to continue, so that the coastline and estuary can respond to the constantly changing patterns of accretion and erosion.
  • Enabling the Spurn peninsula to evolve as naturally as possible with limited intervention, maintaining access to key facilities with minimal interruption to natural coastal processes.
  • Monitoring and researching coastal processes to improve understanding, and working with partners to find ways of enabling these dynamic processes to ensure no net loss of features.
  • Providing access to sites of geological or geomorphological interest, and providing interpretation, to raise awareness and improve understanding of the dynamic processes under way.
  • Raising awareness of the importance of the roosting and feeding areas for birds around the estuary, ensuring that they are adequately protected and managed.


SEO 2: Encourage a strategic approach to the planning of land uses around the estuary to address the pressures of climate change and development, ensuring that natural processes continue to function, the estuary’s biodiversity value is protected and enhanced, and its open and expansive character is retained.

For example by:

  • Supporting the strategic approach to assimilating new industrial development, in particular on the south bank, to ensure co-ordination of changes so that the internationally significant biodiversity is protected and enhanced.
  • Ensuring that compensation and mitigation sites are identified, established and functioning effectively well before development goes ahead, thus ensuring the continuation of resources for wildlife.
  • Ensuring that planning decisions adequately address the vital role that areas landward of the flood defences play in supporting the internationally important bird populations, and that new wetlands and grasslands are established to form effective corridors and stepping stone habitats which extend the resources available to wildlife and enable species movement.
  • Carefully planning new industrial complexes and structures so that they are integrated into local landscape character, by retaining key views, landscape features and sites of nature conservation value, and creating new habitats such as wetlands and grazing marsh, thus ensuring that industrial areas are more ‘permeable’, with networks of connected habitats.
  • Ensuring that light spill is minimised through careful lighting design, particularly in the more tranquil and undisturbed areas.
  • Avoiding development in remote and tranquil areas, in particular protecting the remote qualities of Spurn Point Heritage Coast.


SEO 3: Work with land owners and managers to incorporate more habitats and features into the farmed landscapes that improve biodiversity, address water quality and availability, and contribute to landscape character.

For example by:

  • Encouraging the creation and management of permanent grass field margins and grass buffers to watercourses, thus reducing nutrient and sediment run-off.
  • Taking opportunities to link and expand semi-natural habitats, especially grazing marsh and wetlands, thus creating strong habitat networks, providing corridors and stepping stones which will increase resilience to climate change by reducing fragmentation and enabling species movement.
  • Encouraging the creation and management of fresh water habitats, wet grasslands and brackish water habitats to extend the areas available
    as well as compensating for those lost through rising sea levels, to strengthen biodiversity interest, enable species movement and improve infiltration of rain water.
  • Conserving the network of drains, ditches and dykes and managing them so that they form effective habitats, encouraging more emergent vegetation and strengthening their contribution in supporting wildlife and as landscape features.
  • Manage pumped drainage in such a way as to support the network of ditch habitats and to avoid drawing in saline waters.
  • Encouraging selection of crops that will reduce demand for irrigation, and addressing demand for water – for instance through increasing on-farm water storage -thus reducing the risk of saline intrusion into groundwater.
  • Encouraging the introduction of grass margins, pollen and nectar strips, and grass buffers along watercourses, to increase sources of support for pollinating insects as well as improving infiltration of rain water.
  • Encouraging cultivation practices that will assist with the build-up of organic content of the soils as well as provide habitats for farmland birds and insects, such as including fallow within rotations, over- wintering stubbles, and pollen and nectar strips.


SEO 4: Improve green infrastructure links between urban and rural areas, and seek opportunities for public enjoyment of the open, expansive landscape and its dynamic coastal features and wildlife.

For example by:

  • Incorporating green spaces in new developments – in particular around the urban areas of Hull and Immingham, connecting semi-natural habitats where possible to increase their resilience to climate change impacts, and addressing sustainable drainage, while also improving access to the natural environment for urban populations.
  • Identifying opportunities to create new routes, including permissive routes, especially around Hull, linking with green spaces and rights of way within the city and thus enabling the urban population to access the countryside and the country parks.
  • Identifying opportunities to create new circular routes or links to existing rights of way, notably the Yorkshire Wolds Way and the Trans Pennine Trail.
  • Seeking ways of enabling more people to benefit from the high level of inspiration to be gained from proximity to the Spurn peninsula and open estuary with its long views, wildlife and dynamic geomorphological features, in particular by gaining access to raised flood banks (where this does not disturb important bird populations) and linking to the new coastal access route that will go up to the Humber Bridge.
  • Encouraging sustainable recreational and educational access to enable more people to understand and appreciate the Humber Estuary and its landscape, historic interest, wildlife and its functions and dynamic nature, bringing attention to and interpreting the realignment sites.


SEO 5: Protect, record and manage the cultural and historic landscape associated with the history of the area as a longstanding key communication and trading route.

For example by:

  • Preserving important coastal and intertidal palaeo-environmental and archaeological evidence.
  • Protecting significant and iconic historic features, including those relating to the different periods of drainage and the coastal and military defence structures.
  • Identifying those historic features that are vulnerable to coastal processes and sea level rise, and ensuring that they are recorded and data is captured.
  • Encouraging the use of local materials such as soft red brick, pantiles and Holderness cobbles, in restoring vernacular buildings, traditional farm buildings, water management structures and historic features.
  • Managing sites of historic interest, such as drainage structures, the early brick-making and rope-making works, and military defences, and making them accessible to the public where appropriate, so that the role of the area can be understood and enjoyed.

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