Derry Area Plan 2011
Part 4: Natural Environment
There is an increasing awareness of the impacts of development on the natural environment and growing public support for the protection of this resource at local, national and international level. An important element of the Plan is to balance the need for economic growth with the requirement to protect, conserve and enhance our wildlife and natural beauty.
The District contains a variety of habitats including moorland, river corridors, woodland, lough shore and margins of the Foyle Estuary. The landscape of the District provides a rich resource of productive agricultural land, settlement, sites for nature conservation and archaeological and historical features and remains which illustrate ways in which the land has provided for human occupation and activity in the past. It also provides for many recreational needs and has the potential to become an increasingly important tourist asset.
The practical implications and associated land use planning policies for the natural heritage interest including sites of European importance are detailed in the Department’s Planning Policy Statement 2, Planning and Nature Conservation. It sets out the policies which the Department applies across Northern Ireland and incorporates relevant policies from the Rural Planning Strategy.
Lough Foyle has been designated as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and a Special Protection Area (SPA) by virtue of its over-wintering bird population. (District Strategy Map 1)
Ness Wood and Ervey Wood are designated as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (District Strategy Map 1). The process of designation is ongoing and it is likely that other areas will be designated over the Plan period. The key importance of ASSIs means that development proposals within the sites, or outside but likely to affect them, will be subject to special scrutiny.
Landscapes of national importance have merited designations as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). A part of the Sperrin AONB lies within the District. The purpose of designation is to protect and conserve the scenic qualities of the area and promote their enjoyment.
The Department’s Environment and Heritage Service will review the boundaries of the existing AONB over the Plan period. The review will not form part of the Plan process and will be subject to separate consultation. It is anticipated that following the review exercise, the Department will provide guidance on the design principles for the AONB.
As part of the preparation of the Plan, the Department undertook a Landscape Assessment as a means of describing, classifying and evaluating the Districts diverse character. Landform, landcover and landscape features such as settlement pattern, trees, hedgerows and woodland were all taken into account in assessing both the character of particular landscapes and their capacity to absorb further development. A detailed account of the landscape survey is included within the Countryside Assessment, which is volume 2 of the Technical Supplement.