National Character Area 48

Trent and Belvoir Vales - Summary and Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity

Summary

The Trent and Belvoir Vales National Character Area (NCA) is characterised by undulating, strongly rural and predominantly arable farmland, centred on the River Trent. A low-lying rural landscape with relatively little woodland cover, the NCA offers long, open views. Newark-on-Trent (generally referred to as Newark) lies at the centre with Grantham, Nottingham, Lincoln and Gainsborough on the peripheries. The southern and eastern edges of the Vales are defined by the adjoining escarpments of the Lincolnshire Edge and the Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire Wolds NCA. To the west, the escarpment of a broad ridge of rolling landscape defines the boundary with the neighbouring Sherwood and Humberhead Levels NCAs. The area’s generally fertile soils and good quality agricultural land have supported a diversity of farming over a long period but, because of this, little semi-natural habitat remains. The powerful River Trent and its flood plain provide a strong feature running through the landscape. It is the greatest biodiversity resource, being a major corridor for wildlife moving through the area and supporting a variety of wetland habitats. It also provides flood storage as well as large amounts of cooling water for local power stations.

Cultural heritage is evident in the Trent and Belvoir Vales NCA with the overall settlement pattern little changed since medieval times. The gravel terraces along the Trent have been the focus of human activity for many thousands of years. The enclosure and reorganisation of the landscape in the 18th and 19th centuries can be seen in the regularly shaped hawthorn hedged fields and the distinctive red brick and pantile building style of the villages and farmsteads. Traditionally a mixed farming area, its intrinsic landscape character has been weakened by modern agricultural practices and development. Much pasture has been converted to arable use, hedgerows have been removed to create larger fields and the historical environment has been put at risk. Rural tranquillity is still a feature over much of the area; however, significant residential and infrastructure development pressures exist from the main settlements and major roads that traverse the area. Managing the ongoing extraction of the extensive sand, gravel and other mineral resources presents challenges as well as opportunities. Habitats created after the extraction of sand and gravel provide regionally important sites for wildlife as well as major recreational assets to the area.

Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity (SEO)

See the Statements of Environmental Opportunity section for more details on the headlines listed below.

SEO 1

Maximise the use of sustainable agricultural practices that protect and enhance ecological networks in order to help safeguard the long-term viability of farming in the area while benefiting biodiversity, landscape character, carbon storage as well as water quality, availability and flow.

SEO 2

Enhance the woodland and hedgerow network through the planting of small woodlands, tree belts, hedgerow trees and new hedgerows to benefit landscape character, habitat connectivity and a range of ecosystem services, including the regulation of soil erosion, water quality and flow.

SEO 3

Enhance the rivers and their flood plains for their ecological, historical and recreational importance, their contribution to biodiversity, soil quality, water availability and in regulating water flow and the important role they play in underpinning the character of the area.

SEO 4

Maintain and enhance the character of this gently undulating, rural landscape. Promote and carefully manage the many distinctive elements that contribute to the overarching sense of place and history of the Trent and Belvoir Vales.