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Clay Plateau

Land Management

Natural Features, Watercourses and Wetlands

  • Protect natural and artificial ponds from drainage or infilling. Maintain uncultivated buffers to ponds in arable areas and avoid their isolation in large fields - maintain or create connecting features such as rough grassland, woodland or hedgerows.


  • Conserve and maintain wet grasslands on poorly drained clays.
  • Restore areas of former wetland and wet grassland by blocking ditches and drains and reverting, where appropriate, from arable to pasture.
  • Maintain and enhance semi-improved pasture and meadow by adopting appropriate stocking levels or cutting regimes. Avoid improvements such as drainage, ploughing and reseeding, and limit the use of fertilisers and herbicides.
  • Restore diversity to improved grasslands - and particularly in areas close to sites of nature conservation interest - by reseeding or using hay crops from local meadows.
  • Establish uncultivated margins along hedgerows, woodland edges, wetlands and watercourses. Avoid cultivation under the canopy of hedgerow trees.

Trees, Woodlands and Forestry

  • Plant new medium or large scale broadleaved woodlands (oak woods on clay, ash woods on localised limestone outcrops).
  • Plant new community woodlands close to settlements and structural woodland planting to define urban edges and screen industrial estates. Plant small woodlands and tree groups to screen larger modern farm buildings.
  • Increase the proportion of locally native species when restocking plantations.
  • Protect and maintain existing hedgerow trees where they occur. Avoid close cultivation, physical damage or spray drift in arable areas.
  • Plant new field boundary trees (Ash, Common Oak) or tag saplings to replace the maturing stock and particularly in areas of older enclosure. 

Cultural Features

  • Protect archaeological features including rigg and furrow from damaging activities such as cultivation, tree planting or poaching by stock.

Field Boundaries

  • Protect and maintain hedgerows. Renovate overgrown and gappy hedges by laying or coppicing and gapping up.
  • Allow trimmed hedges to grow higher and broader. Consider trimming every second or third year rather than annually.
  • Reinstate hedges where they have been replaced by fences - particularly in areas of older enclosure.


Agricultural Buildings

  • Site new farm buildings close to existing buildings where possible, and reflect their scale, character and materials. Avoid prominent locations like low hills and knolls. Reduce the impact of larger modern buildings by careful selection of colour, breaking up mass and planting screening belts of native species.

Energy, Telecommunications and Infrastructure

  • Site communications masts on buildings in urban areas where possible - or close to existing buildings, tree groups or woodland edges in the open countryside.
  • Give careful consideration to the siting, layout and design of new wind energy developments having particular regard to cumulative impacts and the relationships of nearby developments in terms of turbine size and type.
  • Avoid locating large turbines close to existing rural features such as farmsteads that might emphasise their scale, or on, or close, to discrete landforms like low hills and knolls as this will diminish their perceived scale.
  • Take account of visual impacts on adjacent landscapes - particularly the finer grained Limestone Escarpment - and areas forming the backdrop in important views of Durham Cathedral
  • Avoid 'urban' detailing and street lighting on country roads.

Housing and Economic Development

  • Maintain the separation of towns and villages and the rural character of the countryside between them in planning for new development. Screen any new development with substantial structure planting of native oak or ash woodland.

Minerals and Waste

  • Avoid damage to sensitive natural landforms, mature landscape features and semi-natural habitats in selecting and operating mineral sites.
  • Restore quarry faces to naturalistic profiles using restoration blasting.
  • Restore quarries and landfill sites to native ash woodland, calcareous or neutral grassland, wetland and bare rock habitats. Retain areas of disturbed ground, cliff faces, scree slopes and quarry wastes to maximise botanical diversity.
  • Minimise visual impacts in the working of quarries through careful site design and the use of on and off-site structure planting, road and path side hedges.
  • Adopt low intervention approaches to the reclamation of former colliery and industrial land where possible to preserve the landscape's industrial heritage and 'brownfield' biodiversity.

Tourism and Recreation

  • Tourism and recreational development should be undertaken in such a way as to avoid any urbanising influence on the landscape.
  • Golf course development should seek to conserve and reinforce landscape character by retaining mature landscape features and planting new native woodlands and parkland trees. Avoid prominent locations for built elements like buildings, driving ranges and ball-trap fencing. Develop limestone or neutral grassland in roughs to increase biodiversity.
  • Equestrian facilities should be sited close to existing farm buildings where possible, and reflect their scale, character and materials. The impact of larger buildings should be reduced by careful selection of colour, breaking up mass, and planting screening belts of native woodland.

Further Information

Broad Landscape Types Guidelines