How do you assess the character and importance of our coastline and seas?

We’ve been pioneering seascape character assessment (SCA) methods for the past five years, applying the principles of landscape character assessment to offshore and coastal areas. We piloted the first local SCA in Wales, which subsequently informed our work to characterise the Dover Strait – the first international SCA in the world. Recently we tested and adapted a new method of coastal character assessment in Scotland, trialling at both the regional and local scales in Orkney and North Caithness.

Our award-winning seascape assessment for the south inshore and offshore marine plan areas firmly establishes ‘seascape’ as a key national policy area and provides a spatial framework for statutory marine planning in England. We’ve since applied the same method to four more English marine planning areas as well as at a national level in Wales. Our unique experience and independent standpoint means we’re often called upon by national and local decision-makers to provide advice on coastal and offshore developments.

Fundamental to our approach is exploring the visual and environmental relationships between land and sea, so that marine and terrestrial planning can be closely and beneficially integrated. Our GIS and Visualisation team developed an innovative approach to visual resource mapping which the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has since applied across England and Wales as a spatial tool for monitoring marine planning and guiding development to the least visually sensitive areas.

For guidance from the UK’s foremost SCA team, please contact Kate Ahern, Sam Oxley, Sally Parker or Diana Manson.