National Character Area 53

South West Peak - 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, manage and enhance the open, expansive moorlands of the South West Peak and internationally important habitats and species that they support, protecting both soil and water resources.

For example by:

  • Managing and enhancing the extent, diversity and condition of moorland habitats to ensure that they can support the important assemblages of bird species, including merlin, golden plover, curlew, short-eared owl, twite, red grouse and dunlin, allowing population sizes to be maintained and where possible increased.
  • Maintaining and restoring vegetation cover on degraded areas of blanket bog to sphagnum-dominated bog, to promote active peat formation and encourage carbon sequestration and to reduce soil erosion.
  • Maintaining and restoring degraded heathland communities through sustainable grazing regimes to reduce poaching and aid water infiltration, ensuring that burning and cutting programmes promote structural and biological diversity, and reduce the loss of peaty soils through erosion.
  • Seeking opportunities to retain water, slow down run-off by re-wetting, and maintain and re-vegetate peat surfaces to bring blanket bog
    back into favourable ecological and hydrological condition, reducing water discolouration, sediment loss and peat erosion and improving downstream water quality.
  • Seeking opportunities to restore and enhance links between fragmented upland habitats to improve the condition and increase the area of vegetation and achieve a strong, resilient ecological network that can combat climate change and support more species.
  • Ensuring that archaeological sites and historic and cultural features including historical tracks, mile posts, boundary markers and roadside drinking troughs are conserved and retained to preserve and enhance the landscape character and distinctiveness.


SEO 2: Protect, manage and enhance the moorland fringes and valleys, with their mosaics of habitats including moorland, heathland, woodland, meadows and pastures, strong field boundary patterns defined by drystone walls and hedgerows, and small, dispersed settlements, to safeguard water quality, enhance biodiversity and ecological networks and strengthen the distinctive historic landscape character of the South West Peak.

For example by:

  • Planning for the expansion of various habitats, informed by an understanding of the historic development of the area, to create an interconnected network and mosaic of habitats, for climate change resilience and to enhance landscape character.
  • Conserving and enhancing the mosaic and diversity of woodlands, trees, grasslands and semi-natural habitats by working with farmers and landowners to restore and maintain these habitats in a favourable condition in order to enable them to capture and store carbon, and to reduce run-off and sedimentation in rivers.
  • Managing woodlands to enable natural regeneration of existing woodlands and planting of new small-scale native woodlands, including the exclusion of livestock and deer. Expanding and re- planting existing woodlands (particularly small areas of ancient semi-natural woodland in the Dane Valley) to strengthen landscape character and improve their role in capturing and storing carbon, while retaining significant archaeological sites within them.
  • Expanding and linking fragmented areas of upland deciduous woodland, including thinning conifer woodlands to increase the proportion of native woodland.
  • Ensuring that clough woodlands are well managed to reduce run-off, improve water quality and strengthen their role in capturing and storing carbon.
  • Promoting the use of trees of local genetic provenance, free from disease, for stocking and re-planting to reduce opportunities for the spread of disease.
  • Promoting the management of species-rich hay meadows and pastures, to conserve and enhance their biodiversity interest.
  • Maintaining the pastoral character of lower hills and river valleys by encouraging good land, water and soil management practices and sustainable grazing regimes, to maintain a sustainable livestock farming sector and reduce sediment loading and pollution in rivers.
  • Conserving and enhancing the local building tradition expressed through vernacular buildings and strong field and settlement patterns defined by drystone walls and hedgerows, by promoting the maintenance and restoration of traditional farmsteads, listed buildings and field boundaries, and respecting the local building tradition, using traditional materials and local stone. Managing development within the built environment to retain the distinctive character of the area’s settlements.


SEO 3: Protect and manage the South West Peak’s Upper Mersey, Weaver and Trent catchments, watercourses and reservoirs to maintain their high water quality and significance to water supply and flood risk mitigation, to enhance their nature conservation interest, and to strengthen their contribution to landscape character, and the recreational opportunities that they provide for public enjoyment.

For example by:

  • Promoting a whole-catchment approach to enhancing the water quality of the South West Peak’s reservoirs, rivers and streams to restore and maintain very good water quality and comply with the Water Framework Directive.
  • Ensuring that any future local and regional development addresses water use, abstraction and demand, to minimise impacts on water quality, resources, flood risk and associated aquatic habitats, and to improve the ecology and resilience of reservoir and river systems.
  • Promoting conservation and sustainable use of water, to ensure a continued supply from the South West Peak’s upland reservoirs, rivers and streams.
  • Working with the farming community to promote good land, soil and water management on farmland, and ensuring that farm practices maximise grass growth, minimise run-off rates and reduce diffuse pollution.
  • Promoting sustainable river management that works with natural processes and allows storage of floodwaters, reducing run-off rates and managing the downstream flood risk.
  • Working with the farming community and water companies to manage bogs and mires in order to protect peat soils, increase water holding capacity and encourage active peat formation to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • Promoting sustainable recreational opportunities on lakes, rivers and canals, enabling quiet enjoyment, while continuing to conserve and enhance biodiversity. Iconic geological features such as The Roaches, Hen Cloud and Ramshaw Rocks.


SEO 4: Protect and manage the geological, cultural and historical features of the South West Peak, including The Roaches, Leek Moors, Errwood and Tittesworth reservoirs, and Lyme Park, to reinforce the strong relationship between the landscape, its history of land use, wildlife, and natural, archaeological and cultural heritage, by encouraging interpretation, understanding, access and recreational opportunities which would increase public enjoyment and understanding of this tranquil upland working landscape.

For example by:

  • Promoting the conservation and enhancement of historic and designed landscapes, such as parkland and gardens, and industrial heritage assets, including providing improved interpretation and educational opportunities to increase people’s understanding and enjoyment.
  • Conserving and enhancing geological interests, where appropriate, keeping important geological exposures such as gritstone edges, boulder slopes, quarry faces, tors and cloughs visible and accessible, while managing the challenges of recreational activities at locations such as The Roaches.
  • Conserving and enhancing archaeological interests and providing opportunities to increase people’s understanding and enjoyment of archaeological heritage through improved interpretation and education. Improving the condition of heritage assets across the moorlands through appropriate measures and seeking to reduce
    conflicting or unsympathetic management regimes, while recognising the high potential in this landscape for undiscovered remains.
  • Ensuring that any expansion of settlements is sustainable and does not negatively impact on the settlement character and distinctive landscape; any development should consider community needs, while protecting the nationally important natural, cultural and historic features, and the contribution they make to local distinctiveness and sense of place.
  • Promoting sustainable tourism and quiet enjoyment of the countryside that integrates the management of visitors with the enhancement of the area’s cultural, natural, geological, archaeological and historic features to increase visitors’ knowledge and experience of the distinctive qualities of this South West Peak landscape.
  • Encouraging the delivery of a sustainable transport network with improved public transport, including transport to and from key tourist areas to reduce traffic and parking pressures, for example at The Roaches, and car-borne tourism.
  • Maintaining the high level of public access with extensive areas of open access land and the dense network of rights of way, with clear but discreet signposting where necessary to conserve and enhance this predominantly rural landscape.
  • Managing visitor activities and ensuring that paths are maintained to prevent undue erosion which would harm visitors’ and residents’ experiences of this tranquil landscape.
  • Encouraging more people to visit this scenic, distinctive landscape for quiet enjoyment of the countryside, helping visitors to understand their surroundings and valuing the contribution it makes to their own health and wellbeing.
  • Encouraging visitor access to the countryside by sustainable transport modes to reduce the pressures on the roads, damage to highway verges and congestion at popular sites, and ensuring that such infrastructure is designed sensitively to respect natural and cultural assets.
  • Providing interpretation of the many historical, cultural and geological features of South West Peak, highlighting the influence that these have had on the development and land uses of the area. Facilitating public access to places of interest.
  • Minimising light pollution from industry, settlements and traffic to retain the sense of remoteness and tranquillity, including sites outside South West Peak.
  • Raising awareness of, and encouraging community involvement in, planning and management decisions within the NCA.
  • Appropriately managing the impact of visitor- and tourism-based business within the area, while understanding the importance of the cultural heritage to this industry, and its importance for the local economy.

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