Simon Odell, Head of Technical and Professional Services at the LI, reports on the long-awaited news that Natural England is revising guidance on Sensitivity and Capacity Assessment

    LI Members will be pleased to hear that Natural England (NE) is currently taking forward the replacement of Topic Paper 6 (TP6) on Sensitivity and Capacity Assessment. To do so it is working in close liaison with Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural Resources Wales, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and the Irish Republic. It also wants to include stakeholders and on 20th October, the Institute attended a workshop in Bristol, aimed at informing the replacement document.

    NE is really keen to have a wide range of practitioners’ views and a range of stakeholders were invited. These included 25 from the public/third sector (including the facilitators), 12 from the private sector and the LI. It was intended these would all be people who have either carried out Sensitivity and Capacity studies, or used them to inform decisions.

    Following four presentations, the delegates were divided into three balanced groups to discuss a number of points. These related to the value of ‘Inherent Sensitivity’ as a concept, the handling of landscape ‘Value’, and key principles for sensitivity and capacity assessments. The group also discussed the need to keep it simple, the relationship between any approach that NE publishes and GLVIA3, a desire for all nations to agree on it, a need to take planners with us, the emergence of the European Convention since TP6, the potential scope to include mitigation within any consideration of capacity and that we should be recognising development as just one example of landscape change.

    For the outcome of the workshop as a whole and any further opportunities for involvement please [email protected].

    However the Landsacpe Institute is particularly keen to help support full member contribution to the debate within NE’s framework and at the appropriate stage would want to find ways to support anyone who needs practical help.

    LI Members can also share and develop their own thinking on .
    Image: The Isle of Mull, Simon Odell – What are the inherent sensitivities in this landscape?