Fermanagh Area Plan 2007
Social Base: Countryside
The countryside of Fermanagh reflects a long established relationship between its people and nature. The Department's publication "Fermanagh Its Special Landscapes" describes the natural landscapes as :
"a blend of land and fresh water in a variety of scales and form. There are large expanses of lough water, lesser bays broken by a maze of islands, and away from the major loughs, a network of water channels and rivers winding their often indirect routes through lowlands tightly packed with drumlin hills. All this is set against a background of rugged hills and crags which rise abruptly from the lowlands below".
The modern landscape of Fermanagh is however the result of some 8000 years of human activity and change and a large proportion of the population of the District continues to live in the countryside. There are many older rural buildings often with attractive settings in harmony with the local topography and often associated with mature broad-leaved trees. Newer buildings have however tended to locate on more prominent sites which are highly visible and dominant in the landscape.
Changes in development in the countryside of Fermanagh are inevitable and will continue in response to the needs of its people. It is important therefore to ensure such changes respect and protect Fermanagh's outstanding natural environment and manmade heritage and that new development is of a high quality.
A Countryside Assessment has been undertaken for Fermanagh as part of the Area Plan preparation. This has drawn on the work contained in "Fermanagh Its Special Landscapes" and, using the 16 landscape zones identified therein, the Department has assessed the character of these areas, traditional and appropriate forms of development and the capacity of the landscape to absorb further development. Historic parks, gardens and demesnes which are areas of distinctively planned landscape have also been identified.
Arising from the Countryside Assessment a Green Belt has been designated around Enniskillen and Countryside Policy Areas designated around the shorelines of Lough Erne, Lough Macnean and Lough Melvin. These designations seek to protect the landscape quality of the countryside around Enniskillen and the vulnerable lough shore landscapes from excessive and inappropriate development and to retain the rural character. Countryside Policy Areas have been designated in order to protect the exceptional landscape quality and sensitivity of the islands of Lough Erne, Lough Macnean and Lough Melvin. Within these designated areas it is the Department's policy to keep development to a minimum.
Outside these areas the Planning Service will normally grant permission for single dwellings subject to appropriate planning and environmental criteria. The Department also wishes to promote rural regeneration and to facilitate the diversification of the rural economy and there is flexibility for community projects and reuse of redundant buildings. In recognising the importance of tourism to the Fermanagh economy strategic guidance for such development is provided for Lough Erne and its hinterland. Access to and further enjoyment of the countryside is encouraged while inappropriate and intrusive tourism or recreational developments will be resisted. In assessing proposals for development the Department will also take account of nature conservation interests and protect areas of nature conservation importance. Features of the historic landscape will also be safeguarded and two Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest (ASAls) have been designated. Areas of Constraint on Mineral Developments have been identified while outside these areas the need for mineral development will be balanced against the protection and conservation of the environment. Throughout the countryside it is the Department's policy to improve quality of development.
All development in the Fermanagh countryside should therefore comply with the policies of the Plan and strategic and regional planning policies. The Department will also have regard to the information concerning the character of the special landscapes of Fermanagh and traditional and appropriate forms of development as outlined in the Countryside Assessment Supplement.