Use of landscape assessment methodology, and landscape information systems

Agencia Europea de Medio Ambiente no tenía la información solicitada.

Dear European Environment Agency,

Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as developed in Regulation 1049/2001, I am requesting documents which contain the following information:

Reference to the existence or use of government-managed, supported, or endorsed national and regional landscape assessment methodology, which may be known as a landscape information system (such as LANDMAP in Wales, UK), or character mapping/local character areas (as in Scotland). Further explanation is provided in the following Notes.

Notes: the European Landscape Convention of the Council of Europe has been influencing states to endorse, promote, and undertake nationally-led landscape assessments, the outputs of which are variously intended to assist mainly with land use policy- and decision-making, especially in non-conurbation areas, such as the countryside.

Probably the first national landscape character map was published for England by its then government Countryside Agency in 1994.

Whilst the character mapping method occupied a methodological vacuum in the 1990s, its deficiencies for robust, sufficiently detailed, and evaluative landscape information became evident. That, broadly, was the reasoning behind the development, through trial and refinement, of the LANDMAP method and information system by the Welsh government in close association with local government, and other relevant government agencies.

In 2008 the then Countryside Council for Wales publicised its completed LANDMAP landscape information system, which is freely available online. Its five maps contain a total of about 11,500 different landscape areas. The aspects of landscape covered are: geological landscapes, habitat landscapes, visual and sensory landscapes, historical landscapes, and cultural landscapes. The information system is managed by the successor body, Natural Resources Wales.

In Wales, in answer to an FoI request I recently made, the following information has been provided today (4 May 2016) by the Chief Planner in the Welsh Assembly Government's Department of Natural Resources:

"The role of LANDMAP in assisting policy making and decision making at a local level is a key policy tool promoted in Planning Policy Wales (PPW). PPW (Edition 8, January 2016) at paragraph 5.3.13 states,
“The LANDMAP information system methodology is an important information resource upon which local planning authorities can draw in making the landscape assessments needed to inform local policy, guidance and decision making in this field. LANDMAP describes and evaluates aspects of the landscape and provides the basis of a consistent Wales-wide approach to landscape assessment. LANDMAP assessments should be published. They can help to inform supplementary planning guidance on landscape assessment (covering, for example, local distinctiveness, special landscape areas and design).”
One of the principal purposes of this policy context is to help inform the preparation of Local Development Plans (LDPs) and establish a consistent framework for landscape considerations. There is no intention to review this policy whilst LDPs are being prepared. Our day to day dealings with local planning authorities (and other bodies involved in the decision making process) reveal that the above policy position (as outlined in PPW) is sound."

In July 2015, the government of the Irish Republic published a report entitled National Landscape Strategy. It followed a measure of disappointment at the outcome of several landscape character assessments undertaken at local authority level in the previous decade.

My question here today is probing whether the EU has specifically addressed the existence and potential for advanced landscape assessment methodology (such as LANDMAP) to assist, and be associated with, land use and development policy- and decision-making?

As a supplementary question, I should be interested to know whether the EU is aware of the above (summarised) deficiencies of the local landscape character areas mapping technique?

Yours faithfully,

David M Eagar

Bitten Serena, Agencia Europea de Medio Ambiente

2 Adjuntos

Dear Mr Eagar,

Please find attached a scanned copy of a letter regarding the above
mentioned request.


Please notice that it is sent by email only.


Yours sincerely,

Bitten Serena
Programme secretary – Administrative Services


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