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3.1 Landscape Quality

Compton Bishop © Paul Miles/Greentraveller Ltd

3.1.1 The Carboniferous Limestone that underlies much of the Mendip ridge has given the area its distinctive landscape of rolling hills, gorges, lines of dry stone walls and attractive stone, settlements on the spring line. The area has a tangible sense of tranquillity and remoteness that are highly valued by those who choose to live here and the many visitors. At the highest points such as Black Down areas of sandstone, covered by heathland contrast with the limestone grassland and give variety to the landscape. Views out from the edge of the plateau and slopes are widely appreciated.

3.1.2 The gentler landscape of Chew Valley adds a further dimension. The two reservoirs of Blagdon Lake (built 1899) and Chew Valley Lake (built 1956), provide large expanses of water, set within a rich farmland landscape. The landscape has been strongly influenced by the activities of man from prehistoric times to the present. The plateau is rich in the remains of Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman activity including lead mining and dry stone walls mostly dating from the 18th and 19th century. Both farming and quarrying continue to change the landscape.

3.1.3 The Mendip Hills AONB Landscape Assessment (Countryside Commission 1998) identified 11 distinctive character areas (see map p11). Consideration of the landscape needs to take account of the special qualities that make each of these character areas.

3.1.4 In addition to this Natural England National Character Area profiles that cover the AONB (see 2.7.0), 141 Mendip Hills and 118 Bristol, Avon Valley and Ridges, need to be considered. Each profile includes a description of the natural and cultural features that shape these landscapes, current drivers for change and as working documents they draw on current evidence and knowledge of these landscapes.

Issues

3.1.5 There are many factors changing and bringing pressure on the Mendip Hills AONB landscape. Covered under other themes these include development pressures, changes in agriculture, increase in road traffic and recreation, loss of dark sky and the loss of landscape detail such as gruffy ground (remnants of shallow lead mining), rock outcrops and field boundaries. These need to be managed within and near the AONB boundary to ensure that the essential character and it setting is conserved and enhanced.

Landscape Quality Objectives

L1 Promote appropriate management to ensure that the distinctive Mendip Hills AONB landscape is maintained and enhanced

  • L1.1 Create a stronger and more integrated approach to the Mendip Hills natural environment through mechanisms including relevant Local Nature Partnerships and a Nature Improvement Area Partnerships Details

L2 Provide opportunities to acquire and develop skills required to care for and promote the landscape and its special qualities.

  • L2.1 Organise rural skills training events Details
  • L2.2 Extend links with colleges, youth organisations and land managers to develop and run training events/programmes Details

L3 Increase awareness and appreciation of the purposes of designation and the special qualities of the AONB

  • L3.1 Update the Mendip Hills AONB Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) by collating the existing LCAs to form one comprehensive document. Details
  • L3.2 Produce an AONB Sensitivity Map Details
  • L3.3 Complete Cheddar landscape character assessment and or sensitivity study. Details
  • L3.4 Develop and maintain Mendip Hills AONB web site with appropriate information Details

L4 Increase awareness of the benefits of supporting local products and services that help conserve and enhance the landscape.

  • L4.1 Promote Greentraveller’s Mendip Hills AONB online guide Details