Landscape assessment

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Landscape assessment is a sub-category of environmental assessment (or EIA) concerned with quality assessment of the landscape. Landscape quality is assessed either as part of a strategic planning process or in connection with a specific development which will have an impact on the landscape.

The term 'landscape assessment' can be used to mean either:

  • visual assessment. This would look at the nature and extent of visual impacts and qualities relating to locations and proposals. UK-related guidance on the preparation of these assessments is given in the 3rd edition of the Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment published by Routledge on behalf of the Landscape Institute & Institute of Environmental Management, 2013.
  • character assessment. This includes assessments of each aspect of the landscape: geology, hydrology, soils, ecology, settlement patterns, cultural history, scenic characteristics, land use etc. It typically includes distinct descriptive and evaluative components. Guidance on the preparation of these assessments is given in Landscape Character assessment: Guidance for England and Scotland published by the Countryside Agency & Scottish Natural Heritage, April 2002.

Since landscape assessments are intended to help with the conservation and enhancement of environmental goods, it is usually necessary to have a fully geographical landscape assessment as a stage in the process of EIA and landscape planning.

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