National Character Area 32

Lancashire and Amounderness Plain - 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: Conserve, manage and enhance the river systems and wetlands – including the Ribble Estuary and the rivers Wyre and Douglas – with their many associated drains, dykes and streams. This will improve water quality and supply, sustainably address flood risk management, and enhance biodiversity and the historic environment through a strategic, landscape-scale approach.

For example by:

  • Maintaining and improving water quality and provision by working with landowners, farmers and riparian owners to encourage sustainable farming practices. These will improve filtration into the ground and reduce nutrient run-off by creating a network of meadow grasslands, including grass field margins and grass buffers to both watercourses and areas of open water.
  • Encouraging the growth of crops that require less irrigation, thus increasing on-farm water storage.
  • Managing the network of drains, ditches and dykes on rotation so that they continue to function, while retaining vegetation to form effective habitats for species such as water voles. This will build links between wetland and other semi-natural habitats, improving water quality and preserving key landscape features.
  • Managing and restoring any remnant landscape and habitat mosaics that are important to landscape structure and diversity, focusing on river, watercourse and wetland landscape features.
  • Seeking opportunities to increase and link wetland habitats, including open water, reedbed, fen, wet woodland and wet grassland.
  • Seeking opportunities to maintain and increase flood plain grazing marsh, based on its role in storing carbon, ensuring that sites are managed to enhance their biodiversity value.
  • Encouraging agricultural practices such as planting winter cover crops, and creating in-field grass areas to prevent run-off, permanent grassland with low inputs, and buffer strips on cultivated land adjacent to watercourses, thus improving the infiltration of rainwater.
  • Where feasible, through partnership, seeking opportunities to support habitat enhancement and wildlife opportunities, managing flood risk in relevant areas by creating permanent grassland, wet grassland and wet woodlands, and expanding or creating flood storage areas.
  • Seeking opportunities to create woodland to reduce flood flows.
  • Seeking opportunities to develop joint strategies in relation to the delivery of the Shoreline Management Plan and Catchment Flood Management Plan, ensuring that flood risk from both the coast and inland waterways is managed effectively, and protecting settlements.
  • Responding to rising sea levels, storm events and flooding by promoting coastal adaptation measures and supporting planning policies that avoid development in flood-prone areas.
  • On undefended coastlines, allowing natural processes to occur so that sediment can provide natural sea defences. This also creates important habitats such as salt marsh, mud and sand flats.
  • Protecting and restoring features of historic interest associated with drainage history, and providing access and interpretation where possible.
  • Where new development will generate surface water run-off, ensuring that it incorporates sustainable urban drainage systems. The amount of surface water that enters the combined sewer network should be minimised. Also, seeking opportunities for the retrofitting of sustainable urban drainage systems in locations that generate surface water run-off.


SEO 2: Work with landowners and land managers to protect, enhance and strengthen the network of farmland features in this agricultural plain landscape. Create and expand farmland habitats to enhance biodiversity, improve soil and water quality, strengthen the resilience of habitats to climate change and enhance landscape character.

For example by:

  • Encouraging sustainable food production to contribute to the economy, while protecting and managing high-quality soils.
  • Conserving and managing field ponds, and lowland mosses and meres, which are of great landscape, historical and wildlife interest.
  • Maintaining distinctive (often historic) brick-built barns, which are a prominent landscape feature.
  • Conserving and restoring hedgerows and hedgerow trees – especially in the mosslands – in order to preserve the dominant ancient and post-medieval enclosed landscape.
  • Encouraging cultivation practices that will benefit wildlife (such as farmland bird species and pollinating insects) by adopting land management interventions including the incorporation of fallow periods within rotations, overwintering stubbles, uncropped field margins, pollen and nectar strips, and the planting of birdseed mixtures.
  • Taking opportunities to reduce habitat fragmentation by creating networks, corridors and stepping stones of semi-natural habitats. This can increase the resilience of species and habitats to climate change, notably by creating more hedgerows on higher ground and pasture land, managing flood plain grazing marsh, and creating buffer strips of permanent grassland alongside watercourses – as well as pollen and nectar strips.
  • Working with landowners and farmers to create marginal habitats around designated sites such as reedbed, fen and carr woodland.
  • Working with landowners and farmers to solve the problem of surface water flooding and poor drainage of agricultural land.
  • Ensuring that all existing woodlands are brought under sound management, and that those with links to ancient woodlands are managed to improve their biodiversity and heritage interest.
  • Improving soil and crop management by encouraging the practice of increasing green cover crops (such as grasslands) on cultivated or bare soil and field margins, and adopting appropriate grazing regimes on soils that are vulnerable to compaction.
  • Seeking opportunities to extend unimproved species-rich grassland and other riparian habitats around key waterways and designated sites, thereby improving water quality and providing wildlife corridors for water voles and bird species (including wading birds).


SEO 3: Promote the sense of place of the coastal and inland settlements, and protect the remaining rural character of the wider landscape from further loss and change from development pressures. Manage urban fringe development to ensure that it does not negatively impact the rural character of the area, and ensure that all development is of an appropriate type and scale. Provide good green infrastructure links to enhance people’s enjoyment of and access to the varied landscapes and valuable recreational assets that the area provides.

For example by:

  • Protecting important views to the coast and along the urban coastline frontage of the Fylde.
  • Ensuring that development respects local settlement patterns and uses traditional building materials where possible.
  • Incorporating green spaces into new developments, in particular around the urban fringe. Connecting green spaces with semi-natural habitats where possible, providing communities with recreational green space and wildlife corridors.
  • Managing development around the urban fringe and within rural settlements to enhance the distinctive character and countryside setting of the rural landscape.
  • Encouraging landscaped buffers for any development that impacts on land outside settlement boundaries, in order to limit the effect on the landscape.
  • Seeking opportunities to enable both locals and visitors to enjoy access to the coast and its associated recreation opportunities, providing good facilities at coastal resorts and opening up access to the area’s geological heritage, eroding coastline and wildlife. The England Coast Path, a brand new National Trail, will – for the first time – allow people the right of access around England’s entire open coast. Where appropriate, this will include ‘spreading room’ along the way, where visitors can rest, relax or admire the view.
  • Managing the key approach routes to the main urban centres as gateways, so as not to detract from the resort experience with generic urban expansion.
  • Enhancing landscapes associated with major infrastructure developments such as the M6 and M55 corridors.
  • Improving drainage arrangements to limit pollution and floodwater retention through tree planting in areas where this can integrate new development or infrastructure.
  • Protecting the landscape character of rural areas through the management of developments and activities such as golf courses, motorbike scrambling, caravan parks and equestrian centres.
  • Developing initiatives to encourage local communities, particularly in deprived areas, to enjoy their local greenspace, to take action to improve it, and to benefit from the recreation and health benefits that it offers. This might include action to develop wildlife corridors to improve the resilience of species to climate change.
  • Incorporating greenspaces into new developments, ensuring a connection between these and semi-natural habitats. This will benefit wildlife while providing communities with recreational outdoor space.
  • Seeking opportunities to engage communities in the expansion of woodland cover in appropriate areas, and increasing public access to existing woodlands.
  • Ensuring that significant built developments do not adversely impact the open character of the area. Through grant schemes, seeking opportunities to enhance and conserve traditional farm buildings, and encouraging the use of traditional building materials where appropriate.
  • Ensuring that woodland planting schemes and biomass crops are carefully located, with consideration for archaeological potential, the impact on long, open views, and the effect on the functionality of grassland, wetland, woodland, coastal and other ecological networks. Also, ensuring consistency with the Lancashire Woodland Vision strategy.
  • Seeking opportunities to work with the farming community by encouraging the creation and maintenance of semi-natural habitats that contribute natural features to the rural landscape. This will help to maintain the high levels of tranquillity found in rural areas associated with farmed landscapes, away from larger settlements.
  • Using an understanding of the area’s traditional and historic architecture, and its distinct patterns of settlement, to inform the appropriate conservation and use of historic buildings, and to plan for and inspire any environmentally beneficial new development that makes a positive contribution to local character and retains key views.
  • Carefully ensuring that light spill is minimised through lighting design in new developments, to minimise the impact on dark skies and on wildlife, particularly bats and birds.


SEO 4: Promote and manage recreational and access opportunities, at the same time as conserving the natural and cultural heritage. Conserve and enhance the historic environment, geodiversity, areas of tranquillity, nature conservation sites, long, open views and landscape character. In recognition of the importance of tourism to the local economy, provide interpretation and educational facilities, which will bring health and wellbeing benefits for both residents and visitors.

For example by:

  • Identifying opportunities to create new permissive routes, especially around larger settlements, linking with existing rights of way within settlements and into the surrounding countryside. Extending coastal access with roll-back provision and by working in partnership with others.
  • Seeking opportunities to increase public access to existing woodlands, and identifying new community woodland creation schemes.
  • Where appropriate, seeking opportunities to provide surfaced paths for use by all levels of ability, opening up access to the area’s many historic, natural and cultural assets.
  • Increasing awareness of geodiversity, and of its role in developing the character of the NCA – including both dynamic and static geology.
  • Seeking opportunities to restore peatlands, to re-establish their geomorphological function and as a record of palaeo-environmental evidence.
  • Restoring the structure and character of designed landscapes, ensuring in particular that landmark woodlands are retained.
  • Working with local communities and schools to interpret the area’s historic landscape.
  • Appropriately managing the historic environment for its contribution to local character and sense of identity, and as a framework for habitat restoration and sustainable development.
  • Seeking opportunities to enable both locals and visitors to enjoy access to the coast and its associated recreation opportunities: providing good facilities at coastal resorts and opening up access to the area’s geological heritage, eroding coastline and wildlife.
  • Managing the demand for recreational facilities, particularly in the coastal resorts on the fringes of Blackpool, including the development of golf courses, static caravan sites and marinas, and the leisure complexes close to the M6 corridor.
  • Ensuring that sensitive ecosystems such as sand dunes and salt marshes are not negatively impacted by increased recreation and access. Employing careful design and management of new and existing access routes, and using education boards to publicise the threat to these habitats. This is especially relevant in the confined area of dunes, where trampling is causing erosion that may lead to the degradation of natural grass swards and the destabilisation of the dunes. Natural England’s Coastal Access Scheme sets out the methodology for the implementation of the England Coast Path and associated coastal margin – and includes details of how it will ensure that there will be no impact on sensitive features found on and along the coast.
  • Protecting the long, expansive, open views along the coastline (valued for their sense of inspiration and place) from intrusive developments such as car parks and leisure facilities, which can be visually invasive in distinctive landscapes.
  • Protecting and managing the area’s long, characteristic views – including those over the plain and coastline, and towards the dramatic backdrop of the Forest of Bowland and Lake District – by ensuring that any new development is well designed to be integrated into the landscape.
  • Promoting opportunities for access and enjoyment, while managing visitor pressure, in the NCA’s country parks such as Beacon Park, Cuerden Valley and Wyre Estuary, and in the urban parks of towns such as Blackpool, Lytham St Anne’s and Preston.
  • Promoting the valuable recreational opportunities offered by the National Trails and National Cycle Routes (including the Trans Pennine Trail, Preston Guild Wheel, Lancashire Coastal Way, Ribble Way and Wyre Way), together with the Ribble Link, Lancaster Canal, and Leeds and Liverpool Canal. These provide a chance to explore the countryside, coastal and estuary landscapes, and to engage in a range of activities including walking, fishing and boating.
  • Developing opportunities for visitors to enjoy the NCA’s many historic locations, including Blackpool – the tower, the promenade and the pleasure beach – with its legacy of fine Victorian buildings from its heyday as one of the most prominent coastal resorts in England.
  • Developing good-quality interpretation and education about habitats, wildlife, geology and history at key sites, including working with schools and other educational institutions.
  • Improving access to the coast for walking and cycling, and also for disabled people, through the sustainable use of old railway lines, tracks and paths, and through encouraging reduced car use. Securing opportunities for the public to enjoy the natural environment through the implementation of the England Coast Path, while ensuring its appropriate protection.
  • Ensuring that the promotion of access opportunities educates people about the vulnerability of the NCA’s coastal habitats, and encourages low-impact visits. These will avoid any adverse impacts on agricultural management, landscape, habitats and wildlife.

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