Northern Ireland Seascape Character Assessment

With Douglas Harman Landscape Planning, Countryscape and KP Environmental (2013)

This Seascape Character Assessment was undertaken at a regional scale, and is intended to inform the development of Marine Plans for Northern Ireland. It covers the entire 650km length of the Northern Ireland coast from Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough, as well as estuaries, island and sea loughs. It includes marine, intertidal and terrestrial parts of the coastline, and extends 12 nautical miles offshore. Fiona contributed to the project methodology and seascape characterisation, and was responsible for sections of the report describing how cultural influences have helped to shape the development of Northern Ireland’s varied seascapes.

Anglesey and Snowdonia Seascape Character Assessment

With Countryscape and SEACAMS/ Bangor University (2013)

This project was undertaken for Anglesey Coast AONB, Snowdonia National Park and Natural Resources Wales. The study area included the coast of Anglesey, and the coast of mainland Wales from the Great Orme to the Dyfi Estuary (excluding the Lleyn Peninsula). The project was an extension of the conventional landscape character assessment process. It involved the identification and mapping of marine, intertidal and terrestrial Seascape Character Types (SCTs), and the grouping of these into geographically-distinct Seascape Character Areas (SCAs). Maps and profiles were prepared for all the SCTs and SCAs. SCT profiles describe each SCT and where it occurs. SCA profiles provide an in-depth study of each SCA, including its key characteristics, natural influences and sites, cultural influences and sites, perceptual qualities, and the cultural ecosystem services which it provides. The forces for change associated with each SCA are described, along with inherent sensitivity.

Because the majority of SCAs include a combination of marine, intertidal and terrestrial SCTs, the project provides a comprehensive overview of the physical and cultural relationships between land and sea, and how these have developed over time. The report is being use d in a variety of ways, including contributions to planning decisions (for onshore and offshore development proposals), the management of coastal conservation and cultural sites, and shoreline management.

“What Makes a View ?” The Blackdown Hills AONB

With Sological Solutions and Robin Lines Landscape (2013)

Published Report

This project is simultaneously an analysis and a celebration of the Blackdown Hills AONB landscape and views. It was funded through the European CORDIALE project under the Interreg IV A programme, and has three key elements:

  1. A report describing the views within the Blackdown Hills AONB: Where they occur; how they are experienced; how they are portrayed; how they relate to landscape character, and the forces for change currently acting on them.
  2. A planning and management tool to be used to retain and enhance the area’s views in the future.
  3. A framework for enabling members of the local community to monitor long-term incremental landscape changes.

The local community was involved in many aspects of the project, including submitting their favourite views through online public consultation, completing questionnaires at AONB events and community centres, taking part in special projects in local schools, and contributing to the AONB’s landscape photography competition. Several local artists have also been involved, and their work illustrates the final report.

Brecon Beacons National Park Landscape Character Assessment and Supplementary Planning Guidance

With Countryscape, Alison Farmer Associates and Julie Martin Associates (2012)

Published Report

This major project was led and project managed by Fiona Fyfe. Fiona was involved in all stages of the project, including fieldwork, photography, stakeholder workshops and writing of the final report. The landscape character assessment was carried out using the recognised best-practice methodology for landscape character assessment, and also incorporated the Welsh LANDMAP GIS resource. The project brought together a large amount of data and background information on the National Park’s geology, ecology, archaeology, designations, landscape history, population, settlement and development issues. It presents this information in an attractive and easily readable way using text, maps, illustrations and photographs. The Landscape Character Assessment includes a brief ‘story of the Brecon Beacons landscape’, and a summary of the forces for change currently acting on the area’s landscape. It identifies fifteen distinctive Landscape Character Areas within the National Park, and sets out their distinctive characteristics, special qualities, sensitivities, landscape history, key views, Green Infrastructure and ecosystem services. It also looks at the forces for change acting on each Landscape Character Area, and makes recommendations for their future management in order to retain and enhance their special qualities.

The Brecon Beacons National Park.
The Brecon Beacons National Park.

The accompanying Supplementary Planning Guidance provides recommendations on how the planning system can be used to enhance landscape character. As well as text, this document also uses ‘before and after’ sketches and flowcharts to illustrate how consideration of landscape character can be positively applied to development proposals.

Landscape Character Assessment for the Dearne Valley Green Heart Landscape Partnership


This project formed part of a successful bid for Heritage Lottery funding under the Landscape Partnership scheme. It was commissioned by the RSPB on behalf of the Dearne Valley Green Heart Landscape Partnership. The Landscape Character Assessment describes the landscapes of the Dearne Valley, with particular emphasis on their rich ecology, heritage and industrial archaeology. Current threats to the landscape are identified, along with opportunities to protect, ‘manage and plan’ to enhance the landscape under the bid’s key themes of Industrial Heritage, Biodiversity and Socio-Economic impact.

Research and Interpretation Plan for Garden Archaeology, Calke Abbey


Fiona has a particular interest in designed landscapes such as Country Estates. She has undertaken research into the development of Estate landscapes, including how they adopted and adapted the technologies developed as part of the Industrial Revolution. Her original research into the utilization of industrial technology in the gardens of Country Estates has been published in a book entitled ”Country House Technology“ (Ed. P.S. Barnwell and M. Palmer, 2012).

Interpretative sketch by Fiona Fyfe showing an Eighteenth Century “hot wall” and underground stokehole.
Interpretative sketch by Fiona Fyfe showing an Eighteenth Century “hot wall” and underground stokehole.

The garden buildings at Calke Abbey contain an exceptional range of heating systems, dating from the 1770s to the 1930s, including a rare `cockle stove’, which was originally developed by William Strutt for use in his Derwent Valley cotton mills. Fiona’s work has won two academic prizes and she has also written an interpretation plan for the National Trust, with recommendations for interpreting these historic heating systems, enabling the public to understand and engage with them.

Management Plan for Hillsborough Prehistoric Fort, Ilfracombe

With University of Leicester Archaeological Service (2011)

This project was undertaken for the North Devon Coast AONB and North Devon Council. Hillsborough is an elevated headland to the east of Ilfracombe in North Devon. The site is of considerable importance for its archaeology and wildlife, and its recreation and landscape values. It is covered by numerous designations, and is a Scheduled Monument. The five-year Management Plan brings together the various requirements of the site and provides a focus for community involvement.

It also made recommendations regarding the future interpretation of the site, including projects which could form future grant funding applications.

Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, Mullacott Cross Wind Turbine


Fiona undertook the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment for this single wind turbine for the private developer Renergy. It is located on an industrial estate in North Devon and has subsequently been given planning permission.

The LVIA was part of the Environmental Report which accompanied the planning application. It assessed the potential impacts of the proposed turbine on the surrounding landscape, on views from viewpoints (including some within the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and on views from nearby residential properties

Exmoor Landscape Perceptions Study


Published Report

This project, commissioned by Exmoor National Park Authority and the Exmoor Society, took place over the course of a year, and examined how members of the public perceive each of the nine different landscape types within the National Park. Data was recorded and analysed on how the public describe each of the landscape types, how they feel when they are there, the ways in which they value the landscape, and their observations of positive and negative changes in the landscape. The management recommendations at the end of the study are currently informing the review of the Exmoor National Park Management Plan. The project features as a case study in the Landscape Institute position statement on Landscape and Public Health (2013).

Archaeological Management Plan for Black Down and Burrington Combe, Mendip Hills AONB

With University of Leicester Archaeological Services (2010)

Volunteers turfing the newly stone-pitched Beacon Batch Barrow.
Volunteers turfing the newly stone-pitched Beacon Batch Barrow.

The project area included an extensive Scheduled Monument containing archaeological features dating from the Bronze Age to the Second World War. The majority of the area is also designated SSSI and is managed under Higher Level Stewardship (HLS). High levels of recreation and changing land cover (particularly increased bracken) were causing extensive damage to archaeological features, so it was necessary to find an acceptable balance between archaeological, recreation and conservation interests.

City of Bristol College students bagging stone for pitching on Black Down.
City of Bristol College students bagging stone for pitching on Black Down.

A condition assessment of the archaeology was undertaken by ULAS and a number of management recommendations were made. Some of these recommendations (such as stone-pitching the eroded ground around a trig point, thereby protecting the underlying Bronze-Age barrow from further damage) have already been carried out as special projects under HLS with involvement from local community volunteers. Bracken clearance of the most sensitive features is also being carried out under HLS. Other recommendations, such as the provision of interpretation panels and the re-routing of footpaths have been incorporated into a successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid.