Natural England - JCA No. 42 - Lincolnshire Coast and Marshes

JCA No. 42 - Lincolnshire Coast and Marshes

Flat coastal plain, rising gently to west becoming undulating at the foot of the Lincolnshire Wolds. Unless linked to settlements or existing small woods energy crops would introduce unwelcome change to the very open, flat landscape of the Outmarsh. On the Middle Marsh there is more opportunity for them to be accommodated.  

Generic landscape characteristics (note 2)Key landscape characteristics (note 3)Potential effects (PA, N, PB) (note 4)
SRCMiscanthus
Topography (note 5)

Flat coastal plain, rising gently to west becoming undulating at the foot of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

PA – very open flat landscapes on the Outmarsh, any plantings would be highly visible and out of character.

PA – very open flat landscapes on the Outmarsh, any plantings would be highly visible and out of character.

Woodland (note 6)

Woodland sparse except at foot of the Wolds.

PB – plantings around existing woodland, copses or shelterbelts would be less intrusive.

PB – plantings around existing woodland, copses or shelterbelts would be less intrusive.

Boundary features (note 7)

Middle marsh has regular rectilinear fields with occasional hedgerows.

N

N

Outmarsh has smaller fields with less regular field pattern, boundaries are dykes or not present.

PA – without hedges blocks of energy crops will stand out starkly in flat landscape.

PA – without hedges blocks of energy crops will stand out starkly in flat landscape.

Agriculture (note 8)

Arable with field vegetables in the Middle marsh.

N

N

Mixed on the Outmarsh, with grazing and haymaking.

PA – avoid further loss of grazing marshes

PA – avoid further loss of grazing marshes

Settlement and development (note 9)

Dispersed settlement pattern throughout the area.

PB – planting around small settlements would be less intrusive in this open landscape

PB – planting around small settlements would be less intrusive in this open landscape

Development on the coast including Cleethorpes, Mablethorpe and Skegness to cater for tourists. Victorian development supplemented by caravan parks and holiday camps.

PB – Planting would provide screening of intrusive development.

PB – Planting would provide screening of intrusive development.

The docks at Immingham dominate the skyline in the north.

N

N

Semi-natural habitats (note 10)

Saltfleetby Theddlethorpe NNR, Donna Nook NNR and Gibraltar Point are large protected areas on the coast.

PA – avoid planting within 5km to protect the hinterland of the NNR’s.

PA – avoid planting within 5km to protect the hinterland of the NNR’s.

Historic features (note 11)

Ridge and furrow grassland.

PA – avoid planting on or further fragmenting ridge and furrow.

PA – avoid planting on or further fragmenting ridge and furrow.

Rivers and coasts (note 12)

Complex series of rivers and small streams drain to the sea.

N

N

Views and inter-visibity (note 13)

The area is overlooked from the Wolds, providing extensive views to the coast.

PA – plantings close to the Wolds may be highly visible; ensure that they respect the existing field patterns and scale.

PA – plantings close to the Wolds may be highly visible; ensure that they respect the existing field patterns and scale.

In the Outmarsh the landscape is very open with few hedgerows or woodlands.

PA – plantings in otherwise open areas should be avoided.

PA – plantings in otherwise open areas should be avoided.

Development along the coast is sometimes intrusive and contrasts with the strongly rural hinterland.

PB – energy crops could be used to screen intrusive urban fringe along coast.

PB – energy crops could be used to screen intrusive urban fringe along coast.

The information contained in the above table and accompanying footnotes has been produced by Natural England, on behalf of Defra, to assess opportunities and optimum sitings of energy crops

1.  Overall comments

This section summarises  the key characteristics of the JCA and the potential impacts and issues concerned with energy crop planting.  It aims to provide an overall indication of the suitability for biomass crop establishment.   In JCAs where the physical characteristics are so extreme that it is unlikely that land managers will want to plant biomass crops this is generally noted.

2.  Generic landscape characteristics

The headings are based on those used in Natural England’s Countryside Quality Counts (CQC) project, with the addition of ‘topography’ and ‘views and inter-visibility’.  They provide a way of breaking down the physical and visual qualities that help to make up the landscape.   The potential impacts of energy crops have been assessed against this common framework.

3. Key landscape characteristics

This section aims to highlight for each of the generic categories, the specific landscape features and characteristics within each JCA that may be relevant to the growing of energy crops

4.   Potential effects

This section summarises the main potential effects of SRC and miscanthus on each of the key landscape characteristics and features.  In making the assessment we considered both the presence or absence of crops, and the the effects of scale and pattern in the landscape.  Where the impacts are likely to differ between SRC and miscanthus this has been noted.  Although it is very difficult to estimate impacts at such a general level we have attempted to assess whether the landscape impact could be beneficial, neutral or adverse, as follows:

  • PB - Potentially beneficial
  • N - Neutral
  • PA - Potentially adverse

5. Topography

Topography, or landform, is often one of the main influences on landscape character, particularly in hilly or upland areas.  We have summarised the overall topography of each area, together with an explanation of any specific or exceptional areas or major landform types.  Topography will influence how obtrusive energy crops might be in some areas, or how they might fit in well in others. 

6. Woodland

This covers all types of woodland, from ancient and semi-natural woodlands to commercial plantations, and includes broadleaved, conifer and mixed woodlands.  As well as woodland type, we are interested in the pattern and scale of woodlands and how woodland cover varies across the JCA.  In some areas there are close associations between specific types of woodland and particular landforms.  Issues of concern include how biomass crops might contribute to or impact on local patterns of woodland cover, and what layouts or scale might be appropriate.

7. Boundary features 

These include all forms of traditional boundaries, including hedgerows, stone walls and ditches.  We are also interested in field patterns, particularly where these are of historic importance or are distinctive to the area.  Issues considered included whether the establishment, growth or harvesting of energy crops could have an impact on traditional and valuable boundaries, either through direct damage (eg to allow access for farm machinery) or by obscuring or affecting the integrity of existing field patterns. 

8. Agriculture

Agriculture  includes arable, pasture (livestock), horticulture and mixed farming.  In areas that are already intensively cropped, energy crops are likely to be less of an issue, and the impacts could be beneficial or neutral depending on scale.  Adverse impacts are more likely in pastoral areas, particularly in low intensity, unimproved grassland areas.  In areas where there is an existing underlying trend from grass to arable, the assessment has taken account of any existing landscape and land management priorities that may exist.

9. Settlement and development.

This covers population centres, roads, other infrastructure and mineral workings.  In most cases energy crops are unlikely to have a significant impacts.  However, in some cases there may be issues concerning the scale or pattern of planting where this would impact on the character of the local road network, or significantly affect the setting of towns or villages.

10. Semi-natural habitats

In this section we are concerned with the presence or absence, scale, and pattern of semi-natural habitats, other than woodland which is covered under 6.  In general, many impacts will only be apparent at the detailed site level, which is outside the scope of this exercise.  We have only commented where it is likely that biomass crops would impact on semi-natural habitats that are an integral part of the landscape. 

11. Historic features.

Historic features refer not just to visible monuments and remains, but also historic areas such as parks and battlefields.  As well as the presence or absence of features, we are interested in their density and pattern of distribution, and whether they are above or below ground.  Specific, extensive archaeological or historic landscapes are noted. Issues considered included whether planting would obscure or damage historic sites, or whether it would affect the setting or integrity of a historic site.  It is important to note that historic remains are extremely widespread and many have not been fully recorded.  At this scale we have only referred to obvious sites and concentrations of sites.  More detailed site assessment will normally be necessary. 

12. Rivers and coasts

Water plays a key role in determining landform and defining landscape character. Issues of concern include whether energy crops could obscure watercourses or disrupt drainage patterns, and any hydrological and coastal management issues.

13. Views and inter-visibility

In some JCAs, views in, out or across an area are a key characteristic of the landscape.  These may be broad, sweeping views or local, intimate ones.  A key concern will be whether biomass crops would obscure or otherwise have an impact on the nature of these views.