Howbrook Coal Mine Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment January 2018 Prepared for Cobex Ltd.
The Howbrook Coal Mine Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment was prepared for Cobex Ltd and produced by Simon Cording, 150180432 for LSC 336
Contents 1- Introduction
The Need for an LVIA________________________________________________________ 1 The Role of LVIA______________________________________________________________ 1
3- Proposal Description
4- Policy Context
5- Landscape Baseline Studies
6- Assessment of Landscape Effects
7- Visual Baseline Studies
Desk Study ___________________________________________________________________ 2 Field Study____________________________________________________________________ 2 Landscape Baseline__________________________________________________________ 2 Visual Baseline_______________________________________________________________ 2 Landscape and Visual Effects_______________________________________________ 3 Sensitivity ____________________________________________________________________ 3 Magnitude____________________________________________________________________ 3 Combining the Significance of Effects_____________________________________ 4 The Developer _______________________________________________________________ 5 The Site_______________________________________________________________________ 5 The Development ___________________________________________________________ 5 Alternatives__________________________________________________________________ 5 Phase Description ___________________________________________________________ 6 Restoration___________________________________________________________________ 6 Green Belt Policy 9___________________________________________________________ 7 Sustainable Materials Policy 13____________________________________________ 7 Mineral Extraction __________________________________________________________ 8 Natural Environment________________________________________________________ 8 Landscape Features_________________________________________________________ National Character Areas__________________________________________________ NCA 37__________________________________________________________________ NCA 38__________________________________________________________________ Local Character Areas______________________________________________________ E1_______________________________________________________________________ Historical Character- Assarted Enclosure __________________________ Existing Landscape Conditions____________________________________________ Landscape Value____________________________________________________________
9 10 10 10 11 11 11 12 12
Predicted Effects_____________________________________________________________ 13 Assessing the Significance of Effects______________________________________ 14 Zone of Theoretical Visibility_______________________________________________ 15 Viewpoints____________________________________________________________________ 16
8- Assessment of Visual Effects
9- Mitigation measures
10- Restoration Proposal
11- Non-Technical Summary
Summary of Viewpoints____________________________________________________ 19 Predicted Effects____________________________________________________________ 19 Assessing the Significance of Effects_____________________________________ 22
Avoidance____________________________________________________________________ Reduction____________________________________________________________________ Offset_________________________________________________________________________ Unavoidable Impacts_______________________________________________________
23 23 23 23
Restoration Aim_____________________________________________________________ 24 Restoration Proposal_______________________________________________________ 24
Introduction The Need for an LVIA As the proposed development is part of the extractive industry, it is therefore subject to Schedule 2 of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. The development proposed by Cobex Ltd. will exceed 438, 000 square meters and is located in the sensitive area of the green belt. Therefore, the proposal has been screened by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council and determined that the likely environmental effects of the project are significant enough to require the creation of an Environmental Impact Assessment. (The National Archives, 2017 and Communities and Local Government, 2014) As guided by the European Union Directive, and within the context of EIA, this LVIA will cover the topics of visual amenity and landscape and the interrelation between the topics. (Landscape Institute, 2013) The Role of LVIA The purpose of the LVIA will be to ensure a non-bias assessment of the developments impacts and likely significant effects on the landscape as an environmental resource and associated views and visual amenity. Part of the assessment will be to use the effects to describe measures taken to mitigate any adverse effects and provide a non-technical summary that outlines the remaining significant effects. (Landscape Institute, 2013)
**In accordance with GLVIA 3, a glossary of terms has been incorporated at the end of the document to explain any technical terms.
Through the course of the LVIA the two main areas of focus, landscape effects and visual effects, will be reported on separately in order to minimise potential confusion.
As described in the reference document GLVIA 3 professional judgement has been integral to the making of this document. Judgements will need to be reasonable and made using a transparent methodology in order for the document to be readable by others. (Landscape Institute, 2013, pg 21)
Desk Study 2.4
As part of the beginning elements of the LVIA, a desk study is required. The desk study will comprise of computer and physical research to gather material on influential policy context, landscape baseline studies and visual baseline studies.
Field Study 2.5
In order to corroborate the information, found in the desk study, visits to the proposed site will be needed. These studies were carried out by Simon Cording, a landscape professional during the months of October and November 2017. This field study will help identify any errors in the baseline studies, such as visibility levels and landscape condition, as well as gain access to the viewpoints that will be used in the baseline studies.
Landscape Baseline 2.6
The landscape baseline is the part of the report that establishes the character of the landscape, its existing conditions and its perceptual and aesthetic influences that contribute to this. (Landscape Institute, 2013) The elements of the Baseline Studies are: Landscape features- The features in the landscape that factor into the distinctive character of the area. These features may also form the landscape receptors that will be affected by the development
Landscape Character- The term is defined as a distinct series of elements that help distinguish one landscape type from another. The landscape character will be identified using existing landscape character assessments at both a local and national level.
Landscape Designations- These are areas of the landscape which are deemed to have significant value that they must be recognised and documented to preserve their special qualities. This will be agreed upon through desk study and field work
Landscape Value- The value attached to the landscape by people is part of the perceptual and aesthetic influences in the landscape and will therefore require field work to identify.
Visual Baseline 2.12
The visual baseline establishes the visibility of the development, the different significant viewpoints from which the development will be seen and the receptors that are associated with each view. (Landscape Institute, 2013)
In order to do this this the visual scope of the development will be identified through the use of a Zone of Theoretical Visibility. This is a map that theorises the extent at which the proposal will be seen using topographical data only. The data will be processed and analyse using the computer software GIS. As the ZTV only uses topographical data, field work will help identify the views that are screened by physical landscape features such as trees and buildings. 2
Visual receptors- Part of the baseline is to identify the range of people that will be affected by the development. These people will be known as Visual Receptors. This will be catalogued through the use of the ZTV and field work
Viewpoints- The most important views from which the proposed development will be seen, such as public views and from transport routes. The photos will be taken during the field work part of the assessment and be will be carefully considered by the professional to determine the most significant.
Landscape and Visual Effects 2.16
The purpose of analysing the Landscape and Visual Effects is to determine which of the predicted impacts have the most significant adverse effects. In order to determine the significance of effects a step-by step assessment needs to be taken. This will help make any professional judgements as transparent as possible.
The first step in the assessment is to determine the nature of the receptor, meaning the sensitivity of the receptors. To determine the sensitivity, the receptor was judged against two criteria put forward by the reference document GLVIA3: 1. The first is the susceptibility of the receptor to the specific changes made by the proposal 2. The second is the value attached to the receptor (Landscape Institute, 2013, pg 38) For example, if the receptor is highly susceptible to change and has strong value then the likely effect will have high significance.
The sensitivity of the receptor will be recorded in written form and will be summarised in tables for ease of reading. The final judgement on sensitivity will be categorised as low, medium and high
The second criteria in the assessment is the consideration of the nature of the effect, meaning the magnitude of the effect and can be categorised as follows: 1. The size and scale of the effect- this generally means the scale of loss of a feature in the landscape whether it be a landscape element or view 2. The geographical extent of the area affected by the proposal 3. The duration and reversibility of the effect (Landscape Institute, 2013, pg 38)
This will be written in as a word scale in four categories. The categories will be put into a table for ease of reading and are identified as: ST -Short Term
To help determine magnitude, the effects will be considered in terms of their positive or negative contribution to the development, and will be summarised as follows: A- Adverse
LT- Long Term
The final judgement on magnitude will be categorised as low, medium and high
Combining the significance of effects 2.22
The final judgement on the significance of effects will be based on the combined factors of sensitivity and magnitude, and professional judgement. The following criteria will be used to assess the significance of events and has been created using guidance from GLVIA2 and 3 Significance of Effect
An effect that it noticeable but has no discernible significance to the landscape or visual amenity
An effect that may be more noticeable at a local level but still retains many of the existing characteristics
An effect that will retain some existing characteristics but will recognisably change the pattern of the landscape
An effect that will be a direct contrast and that it is detrimental to the existing landscape and views (Landscape Institute, 2013) (Landscape Institute, 2001)
If it is agreed that the assessment falls between the respective criteria, then the decided judgement will be described as, for example, Low-Medium or Medium-High. This will mean that designated effects share some, but not all, of the characteristics of both criteria
The Developer 3.1
Cobex Ltd are a local private opencast coal operator established in Wakefield. The company itself has been running for 12 years, employing approximately 20 people and have successfully mined sites in Leeds and Wakefield (Cobex Ltd, n.d., pg. 1)
The Site 3.2
The proposed development site is located within the Barnsley Metropolitan District in the South Yorkshire County. The site is approximately 300m North East of the village of Howbrook and lies adjacent to the A61 approximately 8.3 miles North of Sheffield City Centre and 7.3 miles South of Barnsley
The site is located to the West of the residential area High Green and to the South- East of Westwood Country Park. The site itself is predominantly arable farmland on naturally undulating hills and is divided by three streams.
Fig 1- Aerial view of the site in its surrounding context (Google Earth, 2018)
The Development 3.4
Cobex Ltd have proposed 18 hectares of the 47-hectare site be developed using an opencast coal mine. Open cast coal mining is the process by which coal that lies close to the surface is extracted by removing the top layers of soil without blasting. The coal will be removed through a sequence of strips that will then be systematically filled in. (Cobex Ltd., n.d., pg. 1)
The main coal extraction runs along the northern most edge of the site because it is ideally screened by the woodland and sloping landform. Mitigation measures have been incorporated into operation turning the removed topsoil into screening mounds that will be graded and seeded to grass; these mounds will be located on the periphery of the site to screen views into the operational coal extraction. (Cobex Ltd., n.d.)
Once extracted the coal will be cleaned and loaded for processing. Output for the coal mine is expected to be approximately 3000 tonnes per week. (Cobex Ltd., n.d.)
If the development does not happen then the land will continue to be used as arable farmland and pasture fields 5
3- Proposal Description
Cuts Overburden Mounds Subsoil Mounds] Topsoil Mounds Water Treatment Areas Special Seed Mix Top Soil Removed
Fig 2- Development Map of Mineral Extraction Base Map (Cobex Ltd, 1995)
•Preparing the site by stripping topsoil and subsoil to make screening 2 Months mounds and create access. Topsoil from field 5 will be carefully removed to preserve the soils seed mix. •Top soil mounds will be 3m in height whilst the subsoil mounds will be 10m high for additional screening. •The excavation is divided into 3 areas as identified on the map. •The beginning of the mining process will commence in Area C. •Overburden will be used to create OBTIP1 which is 20m high at its tallest point. The slope facing High Green will be graded and seeded.
The approximate time frame for phase 2 is 8 weeks.
•Area B will be a series of 40m wide dip cuts. The maximum void is at cut 5 at 400,000m3. Overburden from Area B will backfill Area C and extend OBTIP1 and any additional material will make up OBTIP 2 at a height of 15m. •To help mitigation the side facing Howbrook and High Green are graded and seeded to grass.
Phase 3 will take approximately 32 weeks; 24 to excavate Area B and 8 weeks to fill the void to restoration level.
•The final phase of excavation is in Area A. The maximum void will be at cut 14 at approximately 650,000m3. Overburden is used to backfill Area B and add to OBTIP2. Additional material is in OBTIP 3. •Slopes facing Howbrook and High Green will be graded and seeded to grass.
Area A will take approximately 40 weeks to excavate
(Cobex Ltd., n.d.) Restoration 3.8
Once the operational phase is completed the restoration phase can begin. The original proposal suggested a golf course but is now recommended to be restored to parkland 6
National Planning Policy Framework (Communities and Local Government, 2012) Green Belt Policy 9 4.1
As the site currently lies within the nationally designated Green Belt the project will have to follow the restrictions of the National Planning Policy Framework, to preserve Green Belt Land. The priority of green belt policy is to preserve the character of the green belt, preventing any potential urban sprawl by keeping the land permanently open.
Whilst most development in the green belt is deemed inappropriate, the NPPF outlines that mineral extraction is in fact not inappropriate. This is on the condition that the openness of the green belt is preserved and the proposal is environmentally acceptable and/ or benefits for the local community outweigh the impacts of the proposal
Certain policies will be applicable to the restoration phase of the development as the policy suggests that local authorities should plan for green belt land to be used beneficially, either by providing new access, enhancing the landscape, biodiversity and visual amenity.
Part of the solution of providing beneficial uses for green belt land could be to build upon the existing site designations. As the site already lies within the South Yorkshire Community Forest, the NPPF (2000) suggests an appropriate plan for Community Forest could aid the approval of the development. This is reinforced by policy GS24 of the Unitary Development Plan which supports the creation of the South Yorkshire Forest and that developer should make a â€œpositive contribution to the Forestâ€? (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2000, pg. 55)
Sustainable Materials Policy 13 4.5
The NPPF recognises that whilst the short term noise levels produced by the development would generally be considered unacceptable, are in fact unavoidable in order to enable the extraction of the minerals (Communities and Local Government, 2012, pg 33)
As identified in the NPPF (2000), the proposed site sits within the green belt (see figure 3). On the local policy level, the Barnsley UDP (2000) identifies that development within the green belt should not cause any harm to the visual amenity of the area. Therefore, the LVIA must consider the visual effects the project may have.
Fig 3- Map of Landscape Designations (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2017) 7
4- Policy Context Mineral Extraction 4.7
Policy M9 establishes a clear set of criteria that determines the acceptability of the proposed development. In order for the project to be granted planning permission, the project must not negatively affect the local amenity through dust, fumes and noise and adversely impact any area of borough landscape value. As the site is part of that designation the Howbrook LVIA will assess against these criteria. (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2000, pg. 71)
Policy M9F emphasises the site’s landform be restored to original condition in order for it to maintain the local character. (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2000, pg. 240)
CSP 38 provides similar measures, stating that the proposal should be of limited duration and have a high quality restoration that increases the biodiversity of the area. The policy also states the development should have no acceptable averse or amenity impacts, which the LVIA will help in deducing. (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2011, pg. 150)
Natural Environment 4.10
Policy M4 states that applications to create open-cast coal mines will be judged on their accordance with the NPPF. This would suggest that the proposal may have a chance at approval as it has been defined as a not inappropriate form of development, as long as the operation does not have any long periods of environmental disruption. (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2000, pg. 233)
In order to preserve the aesthetic of the natural environment, Policy GS22 wants to retain existing woodland and trees that are both individual and part of a cluster. Maintaining hedgerows are also an important part of the policy. Policy GS23 supports the creation of extensive new woodland and hedgerows. (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2000, pg. 52) This could form an important part of the mitigation and restoration process thus the Howbrook LVIA will need to identify whether these factors will be impacted by the development and if present, assess the effect.
As part of Policy M11, mineral extraction on agricultural land will be prohibited unless the proposal does not cause permanent damage to the agriculture or the affected land will be restored to “pre-exisiting agricultural quality” (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2000, pg 72) during the restoration phase of development. This will need to be considered for the restoration proposal if the project is to proceed.
Policy CSP37 offers strict guidance that any development should retain and enhance the distinctive local landscape character by maintaining a clear distinction between countryside and urban areas and not disturb the existing skyline. This could impact the restoration phase of development as the site is located on the periphery of the residential area of High Green. This policy could also create the need for more mitigation measures. (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2011, pg. 144)
As identified in the project description and under Policy GS13, the site is within the boundary of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council’s Area of Borough Landscape Value. (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2000, pg. 171) In order for the development to occur, the proposal must not cause the loss of valuable landscape features, and not be detrimental to the overall character of the area. These factors will need to be considered through the assessment of landscape effects.
Area of Borough Landscape Value
N Fig 4- Map of Landscape Designations (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2017) 8
Landscape Baseline Studies
Landscape features The following map identifies the exisiting physical features of the landscape.
Fig 5- Basemap (Google, 2018)
9 Arable fields
Hedgerows 14 Field Trees
5- Landscape Baseline Studies
National Character Areas The proposed site currently lies within the boundary of National Character Area 38. However as seen in Figure 6, the site is in view of character area 37 as it is less than 2KM away. Therefore this assessment will identify the characteristics of both NCAs.
Fig 6- Map of Landscape Character Areas
• A transitional landscape dissected by steepsided valleys, creating an important backdrop to the many industrial towns and villages within and beyond the NCA. • Rivers creating a deeply dissected landscape, with high plateaux cut by steep-sided valleys, and fanning out in ‘fingers’ across valleys of the NCA. • Treeless hill tops with broadleaved woodland on steeper valley sides • Predominantly pastoral farming in western areas, with arable land in eastern areas. • Boundary features that change from distinctive patterns of drystone walls on the upland hills, to hedgerow field boundaries in the east. • Extensive and dramatic views from higher land out over lower-lying land to the east • Dense network of roads, canals and railways Fig 7- Map of Landscape Character Area 37
• Rolling landform, escarpments and broad valleys • Complex mix of built-up areas, industrial land, dereliction with large areas of arable and pastoral agricultural land • Many areas affected by urban fringe pressures creating fragmented and downgraded landscapes. • Small, fragmented remnants of pre-industrial landscape and semi-natural vegetation, including many areas of woodland and river valley habitats. • Strong cultural identity arising from history of coal mining and other heavy industry Fig 8- Map of Landscape Character Area 38
Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire & Yorkshire Coalfield
(Natural England, 2013)
Contains OS data © Crown Copyright and dat
National Character Area 38-
Yorkshire Southern Pennine Fringe
National Character Area 37-
(Natural England, 2013)
5- Landscape Baseline Studies
Local Historical CharacterAssarted Enclosure
Fig 9- Map of Landscape Character Area E1 (ECUS and Landuse Consultants)
• Small, sinuous or rounded fields, with mainly hedged boundaries • The areas are predominantly former woodland some medieval ancient woodland still existing • The area is mostly lower and middle coal measures geology • Alternating bands of shales, sandstone and coal seams have weathered to produce a rolling hilly landscape • Settlements alternate in character, but a large proportion are medieval farm buildings • Evidence of historic coal mining dating to the medieval period, although little trace exists in the landscape
Barnsley Settled Wooded Farmland
• Gently rolling landform with broad valleys • Small to large sized woodlands, predominantly deciduous and some coniferous • Substantial areas of intact arable and pastoral agricultural land • Irregularly shaped small to large fields bound by hedgerows, stone walls and fences • Stone farmsteads, often with large modern outbuildings • Villages and hamlets set in open countryside • Urban encroachment visible to the east, outside the character area
Local Charcter Area E1: West
Local Character Areas
(ECUS and Landuse Consultants, 2002)
Fig 10- Map of Historical Landscape Character (South Yorkshire Historic Environment Characterisation, 2007)
(South Yorkshire Historic Environment Characterisation, 2007)
The Barnsley Local Planning Authority have produced a number of maps that illustrate coal resources and the risk areas in the Barnsley Area. Fig 11 underpins the site previously being used for coal extraction and so the process is an inherent part of the site’s character
Fig 11- Map of Historical Landscape Character (Coal Authority 2018)
Past Surface Hazards Surface Mining (Past and Present) Past Shallow Coal Mine Workings Probable Shallow Coal Mine Workings
5- Landscape Baseline Studies
Existing landscape conditions 5.3
As seen in figure 12, the OS map identifies that there should be approximately 15 fields on site. However comparing this data with the aerial photograph (fig 13) there has been substantial loss of field patterns as only 9 are clearly identifiable. The majority of the fields are divided by hedgerows that are particularly poor quality because they lack species richness (Cobex Ltd., n.d.). The outer boundaries of the site are also hedgerows that are a much higher quality and size.
The site contains three main waterways through it. The Storrs Dike runs along the northern most edge of the site, the How Brook is the southernmost stream with another unnamed tributary running directly through the site between the How Brook and Storrs Dike. Vegetation along the How Brook is of particular value because the trees are approximately 100 years old. The unnamed tributary has limited species richness but it is suggested that the stream course is particularly attractive landscape feature (Cobex Ltd. n.d.).
Storrs Dike is not directly within the site boundary and so should remain relatively unencumbered by the development.
The site is set within naturally undulating hills that are used for arable farming. The site slopes from Hollinberry Lane towards Storrs Dike. The land is good quality providing fertile land that allows a predominant crop population to grow.
The Barnsley Boundary Walk runs through the site. However from field observations the walk is of poor condition as it is abruptly cut off by crops.
Landscape Value 5.8
As mentioned in the Policy Context, the Howbrook Open Cast Coal mine site lies in three areas of designated landscape Value, the Green Belt, the South Yorkshire Community Forest and Barnsley’s Metropolitan Borough Council’s Area of Borough Landscape Value.
As identified in Barnsley Council’s Unitary Development Plan (2000) the factors that define it as an Area of Borough Landscape Value are the traditional stone farmhouses, informal recreation and pleasant, rolling countryside.
The rolling hills create a continual shift between lowland sheltered spaces and higher open hills that allow for panoramic views over the surrounding countryside whilst the intermittent woodland provides a recognisable gradient between the hills and the horizon. These elements provide key aesthetic and perceptual aspects of a tranquil rural landscape which is a valued part of the character of the area.
The arable farmland is a distinctive part of the landscape character that offers a level of greenness that is part of the aesthetic and cultural value of the area.
N Fig 12- OS Map of site (Digimap, 2018)
Contains OS data © Crown Cop
Fig 13- Aerial view of the site in its surrounding context (Google Earth, 2018)
Fig 14 and 15- Photos of landscape features with attached value Fig 14rolling hills Fig 15Historic stone field boundary 12
Assessment of Landscape Effects
Predicted Effects 6.1
Through the site preparation and operational phases of development the stone field boundary marker will be completely lost to make way for the extraction cuts. This effect is possible to reverse in the restoration phase provided the marker is kept in storage and its original location is mapped.
The site preparation will require all hedgerows to be removed from site meaning they will be completely lost. However they can be regrown in the restoration phase of development.
The irregular field pattern will be entirely lost during site construction and operation. This could have an irreversible effect on the siteâ€™s contribution to the local landscape character
The construction and operation phases of development will result in 8 mature field trees being lost on site. This could have a detrimental effect on site quality and character as the trees would take decades to replace.
The construction phase will need to cut through the riparian vegetation across both the How Brook and other unnamed tributary to create access across the site. This will result in the partial loss of some mature trees. This will have a minimal effect on the aesthetic qualities of the site as it should be covered by the rolling hills and can also be regrown during the restoration.
The construction phase of development will require the entire top and subsoil of the site be removed to create screening mounds. This will result in the complete loss of the arable farmland. This will have a damaging effect on the perception of a green countryside landscape. This will be a long term effect due to the length of operation. However if needed the agriculture can be returned during the restoration phase of development.
The landform will greatly change during the course of the development. Removal of the top and subsoil and overburden to make screening mounds will have an immediate impact on the local character by creating landform that drastically contrasts the surrounding environment (with some mounds reaching 20m high).
The landform will continue to be altered during operation when the coal is extracted. This will create large voids, some with a maximum depth of 40m. This effect will however only be temporary as each void will be backfilled once finished. The distinctive rolling hills will only temporarily be lost because they can be reinstated in the end phases of the development.
The Barnsley Boundary Walk will have to be closed during through all stages of development for health and safety. This will be a temporary loss because it can reopen once operation has concluded.
The development will predominantly impact the E1 regional Character Area. The development will mostly damage the rural landscape character by removing existing mature trees and arable farmland and generally increasing industrial activity on green belt land. The height of the overburden mounds will be able to be seen from significant distances to the South, West and East. Sound will also have a detrimental effect on the surrounding tranquil countryside. The scale of the development is not significant enough to impact the National Character Area.
Loss of hedgerow
Loss of field patterns
Loss of mature trees
Loss of mature trees and waterside vegetation
Loss of quality agricultural land
Characterful landform replaced with sizable mounds
Loss of informal recreation
Increase in vehicular traffic
Removal of top soil
Loss of rural identity due to industrial development
Loss of historical feature
Stone Field Boundary Marker
Assessing the Significance of Effects
Predicted Effect ST
Nature of Effect
6- Assessment of Landscape Effects
Zone of Theoretical Visibilty 7.1
To establish a baseline visibility of the development, a Zone of Theoretical Visibility is required. It is necessary to understand that the ZTV only shows parts of the development that can be seen from land and does not take into account any potential screening such as buildings and vegetation (Landscape Institute, pg 103). Therefore it is recommended that this ZTV only be recorded as a worst case scenario in terms of visibility.
The ZTV demonstrates the extent of visibility of the three main overburden mounds- the highest of which is 20m tall. Each mound is represented with its own colour and merged colours show areas where two or more mounds can be seen.
Contains OS data © Crown Copyright and database right 2017
Legend Howbr_pt Legend
Contains OS data © Crown Copyright and database right 2017
<all other values>
<all other values> 1
1 OBTIP 2 3
OBTIP 1 2
3 OBTIP 3 OBSUM 0None Visible OBSUM 1OBTIP 2 Visible
0 OBTIP 1 Visible 10 1 OBTIP 1 and 2 Visible 11 10 OBTIP 3 Visible 100 11 OBTIP 2 and 3 Visible 101 100 110 OBTIP 1 and 3 Visible 101 111 All OBTIPS Visible 110
Fig 16- Zone of Theoretical Visibility of three OBTIP mounds
Contains OS data © Crown Copyright and database right 2017
Legend Howbr_pt <all other values>
ID 1 2
7- Visual Baseline
Viewpoints In order to help identify visual receptors, a number of viewpoints have been chosen based on the previous ZTV. These viewpoints are representative of the experience visual receptors are likely to have of the site in its current condition. The viewpoints are located to the North, South, East and West of the site and have been agreed upon by the Barnsley Council in consultation with the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield.
Carr House Farm
Viewpoint one is taken from the beginning of the Barnsley Boundary Walk next to the junction of Storrs Lane and Bromley Carr Road. This walk is fully accessible to the public and offers sequential panoramic views over the rolling hills and arable farmland to the South. Field trees, woodland and wooded river banks are also within view. There are also short distance views into the adjacent field and neighbouring West Wood to the North and the residential area of High Green is also visible to the East.
Viewpoint one is also representative of the views from the settlements located on Bromley Carr Road. The viewers from the private settlements (approx. 10) have a higher sensitivity to the proposed development as they will be exposed to views of the development for longer periods of time.
Viewpoint two is taken from the start of a path running adjacent to Storrs Dike to the North of the site. The path offers sequential views that are generally short distance due to the rising landform and woodland on either side of the path. Rolling hills with arable land block any views to the South, only with the occasional mature tree being noticeable on the horizon. To the North all views are of the woodland. View to the West and east are only medium distance with views of farmland and occasional glimpses of cars along Storrs Lane. 16
Bromley Carr Road
7- Visual Baseline
This viewpoint is representative of the views into the site along Bromley Carr Road. The receptors of the view will likely be people in motion, for example pedestrians and motorists. This means the views of the site will be sequential glimpses possibly reducing their sensitivity to the development as they will be moving. Views are long distance, reaching the tree covered hills on the horizon with farmland covering the intermittent space. Parts of the site are often repeatedly screened by vegetation and buildings which are not shown in the ZTV. â€ƒ
Viewpoint four is representative of the southernmost boundary of the site, located on Hollinberry Lane. This location provides long distance panoramic views over the rural landscape and will be experienced sequentially by vehicle users and pedestrians. However this viewpoint is also representative of the static views from the settlements along Hollinberry Lane. As the landform rises to the South, the farmhouses along the road are likely to have a higher sensitivity because they will be able to see greater amounts of the development.
This viewpoint also has the potential for cumulative views as the proposed development will be visible but developments such as the electricity pylon are also evident.
7- Visual Baseline
Viewpoint 5 is a representative view of the development from the residential area of High Green to the East. The residents (Approx 100) are the key visual receptors as they will be prone to static views of the development. The viewing direction varies considerably in the area as the site is comprehensively screened by trees and other residences, which are not visible on the ZTV. These trees offer filtered views to the arable farmland on site and the main road (A61).
However the trees are predominantly deciduous so the development will be considerably more visible in the winter months. The site will likely be seen most through the residences windows however this will require more investigation. The residents will have a high sensitivity to the proposal given the additional noise and their proximity to the site.
Westwood Country Park
Viewpoint 6 is a representative view of the site from the top of Westwood Country Park to the north-east of the proposal. This spot is already designated as a viewpoint on OS maps. Local communities and visitors are the likely visual receptors. The viewpoint offers static panoramic views over the rural rolling hills set with arable and pastoral fields. High green is visible to the south with the proposed site lying to the south-west. The majority of the site is visible with only the northernmost parts of the site being screened by trees.
Assessment of Visual Effects
Summary of Viewpoints Viewpoints
Distance to Boundary
Direction to Site
1- Carr House 0m Farm
2- Storrs Dike
Pedestrians, road users
3- Bromley Carr Road
Pedestrians, road users, nearby residents
4- Hollinberry 250m Lane
Road users, pedestrians, local residents
5- High Green 110m
Local residents, visiting family/friends, road users
6- Westwood Country Park
Local users and walkers, visiting walkers, dog walkers
N Fig 17- Location of Viewpoints
Carr House Farm
This viewpoint will offer partial views of the development with the immediate views being the creation of the cuts and the extraction of the coal. The viewers from the house will be highly sensitive to change due to their proximity as the upper levels will be able to see a large extent of the extraction operation. On the ground a 3m screening mound will help block the majority of OBTIP 2 and the southernmost parts of the development. The nature of the change will result in the landscape being more visually complex with the larger levels of industrial construction and excavation.
8- Assessment of Visual Effects
The view from this viewpoint is susceptible to change as it will see the introduction on a 3m high screening mound running along the entire path. The mound will block all views of the mining operation but will also change the visual scale of the landscape by removing any visible horizon and creating a higher degree of visual enclosure. The mound will, however, be seeded to provide a less imposing natural aesthetic.
Bromley Carr Road
The viewpoint is highly susceptible to change because of its proximity to the development. The 3m screening mound will block any visual access to the site from vehicles and pedestrians but will immediately alter the perceived visual scale of the landscape by reducing the openness of the area. The mound will hide the development but detrimentally block views across the rolling countryside.
The long distance sequential view from Hollinberry Lane is very susceptible to change. Screening mounds and overburden mounds will hide the majority of the development however the mounds will still create focus on the development because they will introduce large man-made features that change the profile of the existing skyline and block the woodland beyond. 20
8- Assessment of Visual Effects
Due to the high level of screening by the vegetation, this viewpoint will be very limited in its visual connectivity to the development. However during the winter months some of the development may become visible but the screening mounds should restrict the views of the operational coal processing area and mineral extraction.
Westwood Country Park
The stationary view will be impeded by the top of the overburden mounds (OBTIP 1 and 2) that at full height will be visible over the treeline. The overburden mounds will create a new visual focus that may disrupt the visual simplicity. Other visible features will be the site offices and removed topsoil. However because the site is to the South-west of the viewpoint and is predominantly screened by woodland, the viewer will be less likely to focus on the development as it forms a minor part of the panoramic view. The view from Westwood Country Park has significant value attached to it. As mentioned on page 14, it is an established viewpoint on OS maps allowing panoramic views of the English countryside. The water tower next to Potter Hill is an example of a historic feature that is visible from this view and that adds value to the view.
Change in skyline
6- Westwood Country Park
H H H
Visible operational machinery and site offices
Partial loss of visual greenery
Visible overburden mounds
Screening mounds blocking views into site
Blocked views woodland
5- High Green Filtered views of operations through screening vegetation
Views of operational site and equipment
Blocked views of development
4- Hollinberry Overburden mounds change landform Lane
Higher level of visual enclosure
Screening mounds close proximity to road
Screening mounds block mineral extraction
2- Storrs Dike Blocked views of the surrounding landscape
Altered visual scale
Loss of views of rolling hills
Change in site simplicity
Loss of views across the open countryside
Loss of green aesthetic
3- Bromley Carr Road
Blocked views of landscape due to overburden and screen mounds
Views of extraction machinery
Nature of Effect
1- Carr House View into the operational mineral extraction Farm
Assessing the Significance of Effects
8- Assessment of Visual Effects
In order to adhere to the EIA regulation, this LVIA will propose strategic methods for the mitigation of any landscape or visual effects that are deemed significantly adverse. In order to achieve this, the aim is will be to create measures that avoid, reduce or offset any significant undesirable effects. (Landscape Institute, 2013)
Cobex Ltd. have already instituted primary mitigation measures into the proposal which can be read in the project description. The following secondary measures are ones that have not been included in the development proposal but have been considered in accordance with the significant effects raised through the course of this assessment.
During the course of the construction and operational phases, a number of mature field trees will be lost. Cobex Ltd. have already mitigated the loss of some of these trees by designing the development around them, however some will still be lost. To avoid the detrimental loss, at risk trees could be transplanted to the edge of the site to provide extra screening whilst preserving their contribution to the local character.
More consideration could be put into merging the screening and overburden mounds. This would limit the adverse visual effects of large man-made mounds and integrate the development more with the landscape by creating more respectful undulating landform
The method of working plan provided by Cobex identifies a field to the south of the main development as being within the site boundary but have not currently identified a use for it.
To reduce the adversely large size of the OBTIP 1 and 2, overburden could be placed in the field. The overburden could be placed in a way that mimics the existing landform so as to not detract from the surrounding distinctive rolling hills. The overburden might then be seeded in order to remain in keeping with the natural green aesthetic of the area. This could positively impact the openness of the area by allowing visual receptors to see across the site more.
Alternatively to reduce the size of the visibly intrusive OBTIP2, OBTIP 3 could be expanded. OBTIP3 is screened by surrounding trees so will still be considerably less noticeable.
The removal of topsoil during site construction significantly damages the rural greenness of the area.
As the will be developed in phases the site preparation could also be phased. If Area B is prepared towards the end of Phase 2 and Area A is prepared at the end of Phase 3, then rural aesthetic of the site will be preserved for longer. This will limit the negative effects on visual receptors from Viewpoints 1, 2 and 3 as they will have longer access to the site before the development reaches the west of the site.
Tree planting along the edge of the site will limit the level of visual intrusion the screening mounds create and subsequently produces a more immediate green focus, drawing attention away from the mining operation. These trees could then help form part of the restoration phase of the development.
Unavoidable Impacts â€˘ â€˘ â€˘
The detrimental effect the amount of industrial machinery, such as trucks and diggers, will have on the landscape tranquillity of the landscape. The damaged character of the area because of the removed arable farmland, hedgrows and related management The views of the coal processing area, site offices and overburden mounds from Westwood Country Park and Hollinberry Lane
Restortation Aim 10.1
The purpose of the restoration is to develop a plan that will resolve any residual adverse effects that are left after mitigation and to provide an alternative to the original application of a new golf course proposed by Cobex Ltd. In order to be successful the restoration proposal will adhere to a number of policies and guidance outlined in the policy context.
Restortation Proposal 10.2
The predominant feature of the new proposal is the expansion of the woodland. This is designed to help expand and enhance the South Yorkshire Community Forest, in compliance with NPPF Policy 9, by building upon existing designations and enhancing the visual amenity. Policy GS24 and 23 are adhered to by actively making a positive contribution to the Forest.
The woodland will be home to four main areas of activity: A bike trail, picnic area, adventure playground and bird watching area, as well as multiple footpaths that connect with the existing Barnsley Boundary Walk. By merging the new expanse of woodland and surrounding places like Westwood Country Park, there will be an exciting new level of informal recreation that could attract people to use the site, complying with policy GS23 and NPPF Policy 9. Part of the proposal is the creation of a new ecological car park that will follow NPPF Policy 9, providing new access and enhancing the level of biodiversity.
The large expanse of woodland helps to create a boundary that differentiates the urban area of High Green and the countryside to the west. This helps preserve the distinctive character of the landscape and thus adheres to CSP37.
As the hedgerow adjacent to the Barnsley Boundary Walk could not be saved, as part of policy GS23, new hedgerows have been planted across the site to help return some of the lost field patterns and distinctive rural character. As part of policy GS22 and GS13, the aesthetic of the natural environment has been preserved by retaining some of the valuable landscape feature such as the field trees that lie on the edge of the site.
Once the extraction of minerals is completed and the voids have been backfilled, the landform will be restored to its original rolling appearance. This is achieved in line with Policy M9F. The field seen in Viewpoint 1 will no longer be arable farmland but will be turned into a wildflower meadow. This will help achieve a greater level of visual amenity and increase the level of biodiversity, helping the design comply with NPPF Policy 9 and CSP38. However, the development will restore high quality agricultural land to approximately 40% of the site to comply with policy M11.
N Fig 18- Existing landscape (Google, 2018)
N Fig 19- Restoration Strategy- Not to Scale Bike Trail
Areas of Activity
Site Entrances Ecological Car Park
Fig 20- Aerial view of restored landscape (Google, 2018)
Non - Technical Summary In summary, the conclusion of the proposal is that inherent large scale of coal extraction will admittedly cause some significantly damaging effects on both the landscape and the visual amenity in the area. Whilst the development would allow for the extraction of desirable coal, the corresponding industry, including operational equipment and overburden mounds, will be visually intrusive and thus damaging to the local character. However, these will only prove to be significant on a local scale, although will be of national policy importance. Provided that the mitigation methods have been sufficiently met, negative effects will be short term issues. Lingering damages caused by the development such as the removal of mature vegetation and arable farmland, will hurt peopleâ€™s perceptions of the tranquil rural locale. The restoration should negate this by creating a new high quality amenity that will be valued as a landscape and visual resource. Overall, the negative effects are judged to not be as significant as the potential for site enhancement and benefits to the local community.
**All terms within the following glossary have been extracted from the Guidlines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment 3, as they are established definitions that have have been written in the simplest form. (Landscape Institute, 2012, pg 156-159) Enhancement- Proposals that seek to improve the landscape resource and the visual amenity of the proposed development site and its wider setting, over and above its baseline condition. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)- The process of gathering environmental information; describing a development; identifying and describing the likely significant environmental effects of the project; defining ways of preventing/ avoiding, reducing, offsetting or compensating for any adverse effects; consulting the general public and specific bodies with responsibilities for the environment; and presenting the results to competent authority to inform the decision on whether the project should proceed. Feature- Particularly prominent or eye-catching elements in the landscape, such as clumps, church towers or wooded skylines OR a particular aspect of the project proposal. Geographical Information System (GIS)- A system that captures, stores, analyses, manages and presents data linked to location. It links spatial information to a digital database. Green Infrastructure Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) - Historic characterisation is the identification and interpretation of the historic dimension of the present-day landscape or townscape within a given area. HLC is the used in England and Wales, HLA is the term used in Scotland. Key Characteristics- Those combination of elements which are particularly important to the current character of the landscape and help to give an area its particularly distinctive sense of place. Landform- The shape and form of the land surface which has resulted from combi- nations of geology, geomorphology, slope, elevation and physical processes. Landscape- An area, as perceived by people, the character of which is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors. Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA)- A tool used to identify and assess the likely significance of the effects of change resulting from development both on the landscape as an environmental resource in its own right and on peopleâ€™s views and visual amenity. Landscape character- A distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements in the landscape that makes one landscape different from another, rather than better or worse. Landscape Character Areas (LCAs)- These are single unique areas which are the discrete geographical areas of a particular landscape type. Landscape Character Assessment (LCA)- The process of identifying and describing variation in the character of the landscape, and using this information to assist in managing change in the landscape. It seeks to identify and explain the unique combination of elements and features that make landscapes distinctive. The process results in the production of a Landscape Character Assessment. Landscape effects- Effects on the landscape as a resource in its own right. Landscape receptors- Defined aspects of the landscape resource that have the poten- tial to be affected by a proposal.
Landscape value- The relative value that is attached to different landscapes by society. A landscape may be valued by different stakeholders for a whole variety of reasons. Magnitude (of effect)- A term that combines judgements about the size and scale of the effect, the extent of the area over which it occurs, whether it is reversible or irreversible and whether it is short or long term in duration. Perception- Combines the sensory (that we receive through our senses) with the cognitive (our knowledge and understanding gained from many sources and experiences). Sensitivity- A term applied to specific receptors, combining judgements of the susceptibility of the receptor to the specific type of change or development proposed and the value related to that receptor. Significance- A measure of the importance or gravity of the environmental effect, defined by significance criteria specific to the environmental topic. Susceptibility- The ability of a defined landscape or visual receptor to accommodate the specific proposed development without undue negative consequences. Tranquillity- A state of calm and quietude associated with peace, considered to be a significant asset of landscape. Visual amenity- The overall pleasantness of the views people enjoy of their surround- ings, which provides an attractive visual setting or backdrop for the enjoyment of activities of the people living, working, recreating, visiting or travelling through an area. Visual effects- Effects on specific views and on the general visual amenity experienced by people. Visual receptors- Individuals and/or defined groups of people who have the potential to be affected by a proposal. Visualisation- A computer simulation, photomontage or other technique illustrating the predicted appearance of a development. Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV; sometimes Zone of Visual Influence)- A map, usually digitally produced, showing areas of land within which a development is theoretically visible.
References Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council. (2011) Core Strategy. Available from: https:// www.barnsley.gov.uk/media/3093/core-strategy.pdf [Accessed 13th January 2018] Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council. (2000) Unitary Development Plan. Available from: https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/services/planning-and-buildings/local-planning-anddevelopment/our-current-statutory-development-plan/the-unitary-development-plan/ [Accessed 12th January 2018] Cobex Ltd. (No Date) Ecological Study. Available from: https://vle.shef.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/ pid-3138631-dt-content-rid-8705061_1/courses/LSC336.A.185093/Howbrook%20 Ecological%20Study.pdf [Accessed 10th January] Cobex Ltd. (No Date) Howbrook Project Information. Avaiable from: https://vle.shef. ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-3147668-dt-content-rid-8751913_1/courses/LSC336.A.185093/ Howbrook%20background.doc [Accessed 8th January 2018] Communities and Local Government. (2014) Environmental Impact Assessment. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/environmental-impact-assessment [Accessed 15th January 2018] Communities and Local Government. (2012) National Planning Policy Framework. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-planning-policyframework--2 [Accessed 10th January 2018] ECUS and Landuse Consultants (2002) Barnsley Borough Landscape Character Assessment. Available from: https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/media/4585/eb86-barnsley-landscapecharacter-assessment.pdf [Accessed 14th January 2018] Landscape Institute. (2001) Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment. 2nd Edition. London, Spon Press Landscape Institute. (2013) Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment. 3rd Edition. Oxon, Routledge The National Archives. (2017). The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017- 2017 No. 571, Schedule 2. Available from Legislation.go.uk: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2017/571/schedule/2/made [Accessed 15th January 2018] Natural England. (2013) National Character Area Profiles. Available from: https://www.gov. uk/government/publications/national-character-area-profiles-data-for-local-decisionmaking/national-character-area-profiles [Accessed 13th January 2018] South Yorkshire Historic Environment Characterisation. (2007) Assarted Enclosure. Available from: http://sytimescapes.org.uk/files/u1/docs/barnsley-assarted-enclosure.pdf [Accessed 14th January 2018]
Figures Fig 1- Google Earth. (2018) [Online Image] Available from: https://www.google.co.uk/maps [Accessed 8th January 2018] Fig 2- Cobex Ltd. (1995) Method of Working Plan. [Online Image] Available from: https://vle. shef.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-3148698-dt-content-rid-8765968_1/courses/LSC336.A.185093/ Howbrook%20Method%20of%20Working%20Plan.jpg [Accessed 8th January 2018] Fig 3 and 4- Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council. (2017) [Online Image] Available from: https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/barnsley-maps/unitary-development-plan/ [Accessed 10th January 2018] Fig 5- Google Earth. (2018) [Online Image] Available from: https://www.google.co.uk/maps [Accessed 8th January 2018] Fig 6, 7 and 8- Cording, S. (2018) Author’s illustrations Fig 9-ECUS and Landuse Consultants (2002). [Online Image] Available from: https://vle. shef.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-3147686-dt-content-rid-8751935_1/courses/LSC336.A.185093/ LandscapeCharacterMap.pdf [Accessed 14th January 2018] Fig 10- South Yorkshire Historic Environment Characterisation. (2007) Barnsley Zones. [Online image] Available from: http://sytimescapes.org.uk/zones/barnsley [Accessed 14th January 2018] Fig 11- Coal Authority. (2017) Coalfield Plan: Barnsley Area. [Online image] Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coalfield-plans-barnsley-area [Accessed 14th January 2018] Fig 12- Digimap. (2018) [Online Image] Available from: http://digimap.edina.ac.uk/ [Accessed 12th January 2018] Fig 13- Google Earth. (2018) [Online Image] Available from: https://www.google.co.uk/maps [Accessed 8th January 2018] Fig 14 and 15- Cording, S. (2017) Author’s photographs Fig 16- Cording, S. (2017) Author’s illustration. Basemap- Digimap. (2018) [Online Image] Available from: http://digimap.edina.ac.uk/ [Accessed 12th January 2018] Viewpoints 1-6- Cording, S. (2017) Author’s illustrations Fig 17- Cording, S. (2017) Author’s illustration. Digimap. (2018) [Online Image] Available from: http://digimap.edina.ac.uk/ [Accessed 12th January 2018] Fig 18- Google Earth. (2018) [Online Image] Available from: https://www.google.co.uk/maps [Accessed 8th January 2018] Fig 19- Cording, S. (2017) Author’s illustration Fig 20- Cording, S. (2017) Author’s illustration. Base image- Google Earth. (2018) [Online Image] Available from: https://www.google.co.uk/maps [Accessed 8th January 2018]
A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment undertaken for a proposed open cast coal mine in Howbrook, Sheffield