«18 PLATEAU MOORLAND S 5.18.1 Plateau Moorlands occur in two parts of Glasgow and the Clyde Valley : • 18a Central Platea u • 18b Western ...»
18 PLATEAU MOORLAND S
5.18.1 Plateau Moorlands occur in two parts of Glasgow and the Clyde Valley :
• 18a Central Platea u
• 18b Western (Ayrshire) Plateau
5.18.2 This landscape type occurs in the following local authority areas :
• North Lanarkshire
• South Lanarkshire
• East Renfrewshire
5.18.3 Both areas of Plateau Moorlands grow in scale as they approach the Southern Uplands.
The moors along the Ayrshire Rim, for example, rise from about 300 metres nea r Barrhead in the north, to almost 600 metres in the south. Those along the Centra l Plateau rise from about 250 metres in the north to about 350 metres in the south.
5.18.4 These two moorland areas are distinguished geologically. The Ayrshire Rim is underlai n by resistant basalts and tuffs. Rivers draining these hills tend to follow fault lines an d 188 many have been glacially enlarged to form important lowland corridors through th e moorlands. These valleys are described separately as Upland River Valleys.
5.18.5 The central plateau is dominated by coal measures, though a number of significan t igneous intrusions and dykes (to the east of Airdrie for example) are present. The are a is less faulted than the Ayrshire Rim, and river valleys, such as that of the North Calde r and Luggie Water are much less significant features. Both areas have a number o f waterbodies, many of them enlarged to provide water supplies for the Glasgo w conurbation.
5.18.6 The Plateau Moorlands consist of blanket bog, heather and grass moorland. The topography is comparatively level with extensive plateau basins rising to soft contoure d ridges. Farmland, often with wind bent trees and thorn hedges, extends onto the lowe r slopes, particularly on the Central Plateau where altitude and exposure is less extreme.
The landscape is of an open, exposed and rather wild character despite occasiona l isolated hill farms, and sheep and cattle grazing. Mosses, comprising areas of extensiv e peatland form an important ecological and landscape component of the platea u moorlands. The Central Plateau also supports one of only two overwintering flocks o f bean geese.
5.18.7 Settlement within these exposed landscapes has been historically sparse. Along th e Ayrshire Rim, farmsteads, villages and towns usually favoured more sheltered valle y locations. Although the same is generally true of the Central Plateau, the lower altitude, together with a series of important transport corridors linking Glasgow and Edinburg h means that settlement is more extensive. The moorlands provide long views across th e Glasgow conurbation, emphasising the contrast between the remote upland and th e developed lowlands.
5.18.8 Modern development in these areas takes a number of forms and can be very prominen t in this otherwise open, expansive and simple landscape. Tall structures are often visibl e over a considerable distance. Examples include the dense cluster of communicatio n masts and electricity pylons on the moorland ridge above Paisley, the communication s mast on Ballageich Hill south of Newton Mearns, and the masts on either side of the M 8 motorway near Harthill. Many of the villages in the area have grown incrementally ove r time.
5.18.9 The presence of coal reserves and, to a lesser extent, hard rock deposits, has had a major effect on the landscape within the Central Plateau area. Coal working ha s experienced a number of clear phases of development. Historically it would have bee n worked on a small scale with surface pits, drift mines and shallow pits. Up until recen t decades, deep mining also took place, though this has been replaced by open-cas t working, often on a very large scale. Cumulatively, these activities have had a majo r influence on the landscape in the form of bings and tips, areas of derelict land, operatin g open-cast workings (such as those to the south of Shotts) and associated industria l infrastructure including disused railway embankments. Hard rock quarries are als o visible features in some areas. Several former extraction sites are now used for th e landflling of waste.
5.18.10 A subset of the Plateau Moorlands landscape type, Plateau Moorlands with Fores t landscape type, occurs where significant afforestation has taken place. Both areas o f plateau moorland have extensive conifer plantations. Examples along the Ayrshire Ri m 5 : PLATEAU MOORLANDS Landscape Character Type 189 include Whitelee Forest (which extends into Ayrshire) to the west of Strathaven and th e plantations which cover Black Loch Moss, Nutberry Hill and the slopes of Cairn Table to the south. Examples on the Central Plateau include Kingshill Plantation above Carluk e and Worm Law to the east. The afforestation has significantly modified the origina l character in terms of colour, textures and the length of views possible. However, there is a general lack of elevation which means that the forests create dark horizons, rather tha n being visible in their full extent. New plantations appear as dark speckled landscape s from a distance. The open ground and surrounding moorland contrasts in its mosaics o f brown and ochre colours. The landscape has an exposed and remote character, although enclosure within the forests can be well defined.
5.18.11 Key landscape issues affecting this landscape type include :
• the prominence of any modern developments in this open upland landscape ;
• the importance of striking a balance between large scale conifer plantations and ope n moorland ;
• visual impact of tall structures including masts, pylons and wind turbines ;
• the pressures for mineral extraction, particularly large scale open-cast working ;
• the pressures for peat working in some areas ;
• the marginal nature of agriculture where this extends onto the moorland plateau and the effect in terms of hedgerow maintenance ;
• possible pressures for transport infrastructure improvements ;
• potential presence of unrecorded archaeological sites which may be at risk fro m development/land use change.
5.18 12 The key characteristics, features and qualities of this landscape type are :
• distinctive upland character created by the combination of elevation, exposure, smooth, plateau landform, moorland vegetation and the predominant lack of moder n development ;
• these areas share a sense of apparent naturalness and remoteness which contrasts with the farmed and settled lowlands.
190 Landscape planning and management should aim to conserve the uplan d character of the Plateau Moorlands. New developments which introduce modern elements or which would undermine the sense of 'wildness' and remotenes s should generally be resisted.
5.18.13 Large parts of this landscape type have been subject to afforestation in the past, resulting in the creation of large-scale conifer plantations of uniform age and specie s composition. At a distance these can echo the gentle slopes of the Plateau Moorlands.
More locally, however, they create enclosure and can obscure natural features such a s gullies and burns, and human features such as walls and tracks. The expansion of coniferous woodland within this landscape type would further alter the balance betwee n forested and open land, with an adverse effect on its character.
5.18.14 Modern forestry practice favours the creation of more natural patterns of planting whe n coniferous plantations reach the end of the current rotation. In many cases, newl y planted forests include a higher proportion of broadleaves, particularly around th e fringes, and are more closely related to the underlying landform. Within part of this area, the Central Scotland Forest Strategy places an emphasis on expanding farm woodlands, establishing commercial forestry on poorer quality farmland, and creating ne w woodlands on derelict mineral sites.
Trees and woodland : planning and management guideline s 5.18.15 Guidelines for this landscape type are as follows :
• discourage significant expansion of existing conifer plantations in order that th e balance between planted and unpianted land remains broadly constant ;
• where new planting does occur, encourage designs which reflect and articulate loca l variations in topography and avoid the obscuring of local features such as burns, gullies, walls or archaeological sites ;
• encourage forest developments to retain broad open space corridors which respec t areas of historic occupation and cultivation where these occur ;
• support new woodland planting where appropriate to provide screening around lan d uses such as mineral extraction, and along the principal transport corridors.
5.18.16 This landscape type would be sensitive to any attempts to improve the land for grazing, including drainage or reseeding operations. These are most likely to occur along th e central plateau moorlands where lower elevation and exposure means that farmland an d moorland are more intermixed. Improvement of land to provide additional pasture coul d result in a further blurring of the distinction between the upland and lowland areas.
5.18.17 On the other hand, the fringes of these uplands are characterised by farmland enclose d by hedges and drystone walls. The landscape type would be sensitive to any changes i n agricultural practices which resulted in the further decline of these features.
Agriculture: planning and management guideline s 5.18.18 Guidelines for this landscape type are as follows :
• encourage the management of field boundaries where pastures extend onto th e moorland areas, to conserve the contrast between farmland and open moorland ;
stone dykes should be conserved, and, where appropriate, field boundary tree s managed or retained ;
• agricultural improvements resulting in the further losses of moorland and mosse s should be discouraged ;
• support the enhancement of wildlife values through careful grazing regimes an d heather management.
Minerals : sensitivities and forces for change 5.18.19 Much of this landscape type is underlain by worked coal reserves, many of which hav e potential for open-cast extraction. In the short term, this could result in the creation o f uncharacteristic features including bunds, overburden and spoil bings which would b e prominent in this otherwise gently sloping landscape. Mineral working can also result i n the loss of local landscape features such as hedgerows, walls, streams and variations i n topography and landcover. Although restoration is now a condition of all new minera l working consents, the resulting landscape can be overly bland and dislocated from it s context. This landscape has the advantage that parts of it are relatively remote, and th e landform is such that views over or into mineral workings are comparatively rare. Th e capacity of the landscape to accommodate such activity is closely related to the scale o f working, the prominence of the site, the duration of operations, the quality of restoratio n works and the number of sites being worked in a given vicinity at any one time.
Hardrock quarrying may have a more visible effect, creating open rock faces such a s those which are visible near Harthill. The restoration of many mineral sites includes a phase of landfilling of waste, an activity which can generate its own impacts on th e surrounding countryside (visual impacts, noise, odours and heavy goods vehicle traffi c generation).
5.18.20 It is recognised that many features of past, smaller-scale mineral working now remain a s important landscape features and components of local cultural heritage. While th e overall aim may be to encourage reclamation and restoration, there may be instance s where conservation is more appropriate.
192 5.18.21 Parts of this landscape type are subject to peat cutting to supply horticuituraf demand.
When undertaken on an extensive basis, this activity has the potential to modify larg e tracts of landscape, and could affect areas of nature conservation importance. Thi s landscape type would be sensitive to any significant extension of the areas subject t o peat cutting.
• require the assessment of the visual and landscape effects associated with pits, overburden and spoil bings, processing plant and accommodation ;
• assess impacts of further peat extraction on bog and moss habitats ;
• encourage operators to adopt a `restoration-led' approach which sets mineral workin g within the context of the end-use of the site ; where land has previously becom e degraded, restoration should result in landscape enhancement and the establishmen t of positive landcover;
• encourage the use of detailed site surveys to identify landscape (and other) feature s of importance which should be conserved or which have potential for re-creatio n during restoration ; the aim should be to restore the grain and character of the site' s former appearance and to avoid overly bland restoration solutions ;
• encourage the use of advance planting to screen the site during operation and to hel p tie it into the surrounding landscape framework on restoration ;
• extensive peat workings should be assessed carefully in terms of the likely impact o n landscape and other interests such as ecology and cultural heritage.
5.18.23 These moorland areas form physical barriers between areas of settled lowland. A number of major routes including the A77, M8 and A8 cross the moors as a result. In visual terms, the road infrastructure fits relatively easily into the large scale landscape.
However, the road corridors inevitably introduce movement, noise and, at night, light, into comparatively remote areas of countryside. As a result, the capacity of these area s to accommodate additional routes is limited.