National Character Area 72

Mease/Sence Lowlands - Key Facts & Data

Landscape and nature conservation designations section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

There are no landscape designations within this NCA (Natural England, 2011).

Designated nature conservation sites

The NCA includes the following statutory nature conservation designations (Natural England, Special Protection Areas; Special Area of Conservation; Ramsars; National Nature Reserves; Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserves, 2021):

Please note: (i) Designated areas may overlap (ii) all figures are cut to Mean High Water Line, designations that span coastal/marine areas below this line will not be included.

Condition of designated sites
All designated sites within England are covered by Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) units. The condition to these SSSI units within the NCA are as follows (Natural England, Sites of Special Scientific Interest Units, 2021):



Landscape and nature conservation designations map for NCA72

View Landscape and nature conservation designations map for NCA72 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

Landform, geology and soils section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Elevation

Elevation ranges from 44m above sea level to a maximum of 149m. The average elevation of the landscape is 84m above sea level (Natural England, 2010).

Landform and process

The low land is found along the river corridors with the bands of sandstone underlying the highest central areas (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description).

Bedrock geology

Triassic Mercia Mudstones, which give rise to productive clay soils. Outcrops of sandstone (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description).

Superficial deposits

Extensive sand and gravel terrace deposits and clay, silt and sand deposits. The geology is complex with mudstone and clay partially overlaid by glacial till in the east. Alluvial (river) deposits provide rich fertile soils. Extraction of sand and gravel has been extensive (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description).

Designated geological sites

The NCA includes the following geological sites (Natural England, Geological and Mixed Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 2021):

wdt_IDNCA_IDNAMENCAAreaHaInterest typeArea (ha) 2021Percent of NCA (2021)Count
2361NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAIN37,669.6Geological6.80.01
2371NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAIN37,669.6Mixed1,029.52.75
2382NORTHUMBERLAND SANDSTONE HILLS72,694.6Geological45.40.14
2393CHEVIOT FRINGE51,591.3Geological17.10.02
2404CHEVIOTS36,487.9Geological165.00.52
2414CHEVIOTS36,487.9Mixed3,488.99.61
2425BORDER MOORS AND FORESTS127,155.9Geological85.70.18
2435BORDER MOORS AND FORESTS127,155.9Mixed35.80.01
2446SOLWAY BASIN98,350.4Geological7.20.02
2456SOLWAY BASIN98,350.4Mixed5,569.25.74

Soils and Agriculture Classification

Triassic Mercia Mudstones underlie this area and give rise to productive clay soils. Outcrops of sandstone extend across the area southwards and westwards, giving well drained fertile sandy soils. The area has fertile soils along the river corridors owing to the conditions produced by the alluvial and glacial drift deposits. Arable farming predominates across the area as a result of the fertile soils, mainly Grade 2 and Grade 3 agricultural land. On steeper ground and where clays are heavier pasture farming is common. Heavy clay soils supporting oak/ash woodland (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description, Natural England, 2010).

The main grades of agricultural land in the NCA are broken down as follows (as a proportion of total land area) (Natural England, Provisional Agricultural Land Classification, 2019):


Landform, geology and soils map for NCA72

View Landform, geology and soils map for NCA72 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

Key waterbodies and catchments section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Major rivers/canals

The following major rivers/canals (by length) have been identified in this NCA (Natural England, data informing the 2014 National Character Area Profiles, 2010):

wdt_IDREF_CODENAME_1NameLength (km)SumOfShape_Length
11NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINRiver Aln7.67,587.2
21NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINRiver Coquet5.55,516.0
31NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINWhiteadder Water2.92,904.9
410NORTH PENNINESBlack Burn11.911,853.4
510NORTH PENNINESCroglin Water10.010,042.3
610NORTH PENNINESCrowdundle Beck4.34,337.4
710NORTH PENNINESDevil's Water20.520,464.6
810NORTH PENNINESHarwood Beck9.79,740.2
910NORTH PENNINESRiver Allen4.94,889.0
1010NORTH PENNINESRiver Derwent15.315,268.4

Please note: other significant rivers (by volume) may also occur. Tidal stretches of rivers are not included, which may include some major rivers.

The rivers and their tributaries are a significant feature in the area with broad floodplains existing in places to the west. The River Mease and its tributaries flow from the adjacent coalfields flowing to the River Anker, River Tame and River Trent immediately to the west. The River Sence flows eastwards into the River Soar.

Water quality

Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) are areas designated as being at risk from agricultural nitrate pollution. These can impact surface water (waterbodies and waterways located above ground) and groundwater (water bodies and waterways located below ground).

Waterbodies such as lakes can also be designated as “eutrophic waters” if the enrichment of the waterbody by nitrate pollution causes accelerated growth of algae, impacting the quality of the water and the balance of organisms within it.

The following NVZs are located within the NCA (Environment Agency, Nitrate Vulnerable Zones Designations, 2021):

Water framework directive

River basin management plans cover river basin districts and describe the challenges that threaten the water environment and how these challenges can be managed and funded. The plans include the classification of water quality of surface waters and ground waters.



Click on the Water Framework Directive layers on the below map to view the corresponding river names.

Key waterbodies and catchments map for NCA72

View Key waterbodies and catchments map for NCA72 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

Trees and woodlands section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Total woodland cover

Ancient woodland is any area that has been wooded continuously since at least 1600 AD. National Forest Inventory (NFI) woodland includes all forests and woodlands (0.5 hectares and over). The total woodland cover within the NCA is as follows (Natural England, Ancient Woodland, 2021; Forestry Commission, National Forest Inventory, 2020):

Distribution and size of woodland and trees in the landscape

Woodlands are small and intermittent and are commonly spinneys, copses and game coverts. Woodlands are small and intermittent and are commonly spinneys, copses and game coverts. Oak/ash woodland on is found on heavier clay soils and is generally in blocks of less than 50ha. The National Forest covers a part of the NCA. Within the National Forest existing woodlands have been extended in places. Young woodland with mixed native woodland species and some conifers is becoming established on previously cultivated / grassland areas. Ancient woodlands, particularly the clay valleys, include oak, ash, field maple. These are generally less than 50ha in size. A number of parkland areas contain significant proportions of woodland and contain important veteran trees including ancient oaks. Willows and alders are found along water courses of minor streams (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Woodland types

A statistical breakdown of the area and type of woodland found across the NCA is detailed below (Forestry Commission, National Forest Inventory, 2020):

Area and proportion of ancient woodland and planted ancient woodland sites (PAWS) within the NCA (Natural England, Ancient Woodland, 2021):


Trees and woodlands map for NCA72

View Trees and woodlands map for NCA72 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

Boundary features and patterns

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated.

Boundary features

Low, predominantly hawthorn hedgerows, often with hedgerow trees are the main boundary types (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Field patterns

The field pattern is rectilinear across the area, reflecting a process of enclosure by agreement. Field size tends to decrease towards the west with some very small square and rectilinear fields, intermixed with medium-sized fields with curving boundaries (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Agriculture section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

The following tables provide the most recently available statistics from Defra on agriculture within the NCA.

Farm type

The following farm types are located within this NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Farm size

The following table outlines the sizes of farms within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Farm ownership

The following table outlines the ownership of farms within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Land use

The following table outlines the types of agricultural land use within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Livestock numbers

The following livestock are farmed within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Farm labour

The following table outlines the types of farm labour within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Please note: (i) Some of the Census data are estimated by Defra so may not present a precise assessment of agriculture within this area (ii) Data refers to commercial holdings only (iii) Data includes land outside of the NCA where it belongs to holdings whose centre point is recorded as being within the NCA.



Note that the below map only shows agri-environment scheme coverage, and not other schemes.

Agriculture map for NCA72

View Agriculture map for NCA72 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

Key habitats and species section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Habitat distribution/coverage

Some pockets of ancient semi-natural woodland, including oak-ash Parkland with veteran trees. There are remnant areas of species-rich grassland supporting numerous scarce and rare plant and invertebrate species. Valued wetland habitat communities are found in the Anker/Trent floodplain grazing marsh with rare and scarce plant species such as at Alvecote Pools SSSI. The River Mease is a SSSI and SAC and is rich in plant and animal life. Ashby Canal is designated SSSI (Trent Valley and Rises Natural Area Profile).

Key Habitats

The NCA contains the following areas of key main habitats, as mapped by the national Priority Habitat Inventory (Natural England, Priority Habitats Inventory, 2021):






Key habitats and species map for NCA72

View Key habitats and species map for NCA72 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

Settlement and development patterns section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Settlement patterns

Most settlement in the area is in the form of small, nucleated villages and scattered farmhouses with the larger settlements of Atherstone, Netherseal, Higham-on-the-Hill dotted through the area. There is increased urban development in the western part of the area towards Nuneaton and also north at Burton-upon-Trent and south at Hinckley (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Main settlements

Atherstone is the only town wholly within the NCA (population 8,293). Nuneaton falls partly within the south of the NCA. Burton-upon-Trent falls partly within the north of the NCA. The total estimated population for this NCA (derived from ONS 2001 census data) is: 70,213 (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Local vernacular and building materials

Red brick is the traditional building form. Occasional estate homes are built with imported stone (Mease/Sence Lowlands Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Settlement and development patterns map for NCA72

View Settlement and development patterns map for NCA72 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

Key historic sites and features section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Origin of historic features

Evidence of Roman settlement is present in the area, including at Atherstone (Manduessedum). Ancient paths, drove roads and trackways, including the Watling Street, Fenn Lane are also notable features (Countryside Quality Counts Draft Historic Profile, Countryside Character Area Description).

Designated historic assets

The NCA includes the following designated historic assets (Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 2021):

Listed buildings

The NCA includes the following listed buildings (Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 2021):

Heritage at Risk Register

The NCA includes the following designated historic assets listed within the Heritage at Risk Register (Historic England, Heritage at Risk Register, 2023):



Key historic sites and features map for NCA72

View Key historic sites and features map for NCA72 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

Recreation and access section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Public access

The following areas of public access for recreation are located within this NCA (Natural England, 2021; National Trust, 2021):


Please note: Public access areas may overlap.
The following linear routes or public access for recreation are located within this NCA (Natural England, 2021; Sustrans; 2021):

Recreation and access map for NCA72

View Recreation and access map for NCA72 full screen in a new tab
View Interactive Map Help

Experiential qualities

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated.

Tranquillity

Based on the CPRE map of tranquillity (2006) it appears that the lowest scores for tranquillity are associated with the fringes of Nuneaton/Tamworth in the west, Hinckley in the South and the bordering settlements of Burton on Trent to the north. The highest scores for tranquillity are found on the more remote higher ground of these Lowlands.

A breakdown of tranquillity values for this NCA are detailed in the table below (CPRE, Tranquillity Map, 2006):

Dark skies

Light pollution is a generic term referring to artificial light that shines where it is neither wanted nor needed, and can impact on people’s experience of the countryside within the NCAs. CPRE host an interactive map, depicting the light pollution and dark skies within the NCA.

Intrusion

The 2007 Intrusion Map (CPRE) shows the extent to which rural landscapes are ‘intruded on’ from urban development, noise (primarily traffic noise), and other sources of visual and auditory intrusion. This shows that most of the NCA suffers considerable intrusion.

A breakdown of intrusion values for this NCA is detailed in the table below (CPRE, Intrusion Map, 2007):

Notable trends from the 1960s to 2007 are the significant 73.2 per cent increase in disturbed or intruded land. The majority of the NCA is classified as ‘disturbed’. A minority of the NCA is ‘urban’ land, with a large proportion ‘undisturbed’ land associated with rural and more wooded areas.