National Character Area 72

Mease/Sence Lowlands - 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

SEO 1: Protect and appropriately manage this important network of natural and manmade rivers, streams, ponds, canals and other wetland habitats for its internationally important populations of white-clawed crayfish, spined loach and bullhead fish and their contribution to sense of place, water quality and climate regulation.

For example by:

  • Appropriately managing the River Mease Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) to support and protect its internationally important populations of white-clawed crayfish, spined loach and bullhead fish. Extend agreements with farmers to minimise effects of diffuse pollution from commercial agriculture by promoting the use of buffer strips and soil management, particularly along the River Mease, to help improve water quality.
  • Promoting the Catchment Sensitive Farming Project to farmers and landowners.
  • Managing the Ashby Canal SSSI and other standing water in favourable condition. Seeking opportunities to extend and enhance areas of wetland habitat such as wet meadows and wet woodland, particularly in flood plains and along rivers and streams, and managing in favourable condition for declining species such as water vole and otter.
  • Reconnecting rivers and streams to their flood plains, and restoring and enhancing flood plain habitats such as wet grassland.
  • Appropriately managing the rivers Mease, Sence and Anker to protect the main water sources within the area, and maintaining and protecting the Ashby and Coventry canals as supplementary water sources.
  • Promoting watercourse corridors as a strategic resource for recreation by extending informal, small-scale public access where appropriate, for example along the Ashby Canal.
  • Promoting watercourses as a strategic resource for raising awareness and understanding of geomorphology.
  • Promoting the traditional practice of pollarding riparian trees (mainly willows).
  • Increasing riparian vegetation along watercourse banks such as the banks of the rivers Mease, Sence and Anker and along the Ashby and Coventry canals.
  • Re-establishing and restoring characteristic field ponds to enhance sense of place and improve biodiversity.
  • Promoting the developer contribution scheme, which will enable development to proceed in the catchment of the River Mease SAC while ensuring that such development does not contribute to deterioration in water quality. The scheme will pay for projects to offset the phosphate contribution made by the new development.
  • Take into account the archaeological potential of the river valleys in all management activities and conserving and enhancing the historic structures and buildings associated with the Ashby and Coventry canals.

SEO 2

SEO 2: Manage and conserve the woodland habitat of the landscape and plan to expand appropriately scaled woodland cover, particularly in The National Forest, to increase people’s access and enjoyment and to secure opportunities to enhance biomass and biodiversity and manage the impact of climate change.

For example by:

  • Maintaining existing tree and woodland character and managing in favourable condition the existing tree and woodland cover, especially ancient woodland and its veteran trees.
  • Conserving and managing historic parklands, including the establishment of new generations of trees that are sensitive to their historic character, and also appropriately managing ancient and veteran trees and retaining deadwood fauna and flora.
  • Within the National Forest area, planning to increase woodland cover in accordance with the National Forest landscape design guidance for woodland creation and the connectivity modelling. Elsewhere, exploring the opportunities for small- to medium-scale woodland creation along valley bottoms, natural regeneration and further broadleaved tree planting.
  • Looking to plant energy crops close to existing areas of woodland to increase biomass production while maintaining the overall open character of the landscape and open views from woodland through to the wider countryside. Bringing unmanaged areas of woodland back into management to increase biomass production from existing areas of woodland. Planting short rotation coppice in The National Forest where woodland planting is already occurring, yet maintaining appropriate open habitats to encourage birds and associated species. Exploring the potential for growing miscanthus around Nuneaton and Burton-upon- Trent where the potential yield is high.
  • Working with landowners, including The National Forest Company, to offer opportunities to people to enjoy and experience the woodlands by providing increased public access to the sites, with improved interpretation for visitors.
  • Working with The National Forest Company and other partners to increase woodland that will enhance tranquillity levels, screen new development to reduce intrusion, and improve soil quality and prevent soil erosion.

SEO 3

SEO 3: Protect and appropriately manage the historic character, settlement pattern and features of this landscape, in particular its ancient woodlands, veteran trees, landscaped parklands and areas of archaeological interest, including ridge and furrow.

For example by:

  • Conserving historic features by working with farmers and other landowners to minimise damaging cultivation practices, for example to prevent arable ploughing within areas of ridge and furrow such as at Market Bosworth Hall and Gopsall Park near Twycross.
  • Using Countryside Stewardship to restore parklands by re-creating unimproved pasture from more recent arable cultivation, planting replacement trees of appropriate species and conserving veteran parkland trees by protecting from damage. Maintain parkland by planting replacement trees.
  • Promoting access to and increasing interpretation about the large estates, wooded parklands and country houses, which contribute strongly to sense of place.
  • Extending and linking important semi-natural habitat, in particular hedgerows, woodland and wood pasture, parkland and wet woodland, and wet grassland, bring it into favourable condition through positive management.
  • Ensuring that views of the many tall, characteristic church spires are retained as focal points in the landscape.
  • Protecting the character of villages and considering the visual impact of any new development. Following existing design guidance such as Village Design Statements or putting such guidance in place to ensure the appropriate use of vernacular styles and building materials that minimise impact on the local landscape. Recognising that village and town design statements as well as conservation area appraisals can also be important local planning tools.
  • Managing and restoring the historic network of field boundaries including hedgerows, hedgerow trees, drystone walls and drainage ditches in keeping with local styles and management traditions, to make biodiversity stepping stones and corridors, enhance historic landscape value and facilitate their key function to reduce surface water flows and soil erosion.

SEO 4

SEO 4: Protect the overall strong rural, open and tranquil character of this well-ordered lowland agricultural landscape; increase the opportunity to encourage sustainable food production; and enhance access to and enjoyment of the wider countryside for both residents and visitors.

For example by:

  • Conserving the enclosed small-scale field pattern by protecting and enhancing the hedgerow network and hedgerow trees.
  • Managing arable cropping patterns to encourage rarer arable plants and farmland birds and mammals and creating grass margins around arable fields.
  • Improving soil management to support sustainable agriculture.
  • Increasing grazing and sward diversity to increase the laying down of organic matter and managing sites with a view to allowing wild flowers to flower and seed.
  • Conserving ‘remote’ areas from development by working with others to ensure traditional settlement patterns and maintaining relative high levels of tranquillity beyond the M42/A42 and A444 corridors.
  • Managing the expansion of the transport network, ensuring that improvements are carefully planned to provide positive environmental and landscape enhancements.
  • Ensuring that improvements to rural roads reflect local character, retain hedgerow enclosure and wide grass verges to improve habitat networks and avoid bringing a degree of standardisation and signage clutter to the countryside.
  • Putting in place early design and planting measures to create natural buffer zones around new and existing development which helps to integrate and soften the impact of built development, strengthen sense of place and respect intrinsic landscape character.
  • From the outset of planning and design of new development, ensuring that adequate provision of urban green space and a network of multi- functional green infrastructure are incorporated into, through and around new development proposals.
  • Creating natural links to the wider countryside to encourage the spread of species, thus enhancing adaptation to climate change, while offering improved access routes to residents and visitors. Following the transportation and water corridors in particular and offering better connectivity to the public rights of way network including National Cycle Network routes 52 and 63 will enable links to circular walks associated with the Leicestershire Round and the Ivanhoe Way and The National Forest long-distance footpath.
  • Promoting and adding to recreational opportunities within The National Forest.
  • Raising the profile of the Coventry Canal and the Ashby Canal towpaths and the marina at Snarestone as venues for green tourism.

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