Landscape Character Assessment in Scotland

Learn out about Scotland’s national Landscape Character Assessment coverage.

Between 1994 and 1999, NatureScot commissioned, in partnership with others, a series of 30 regional LCA studies . Together, these identified, mapped and described the landscape character of all of Scotland (mostly at a scale of 1:50,000).

Each study typically covered a local authority area, and provided the landscape foundation for natural heritage and planning policymaking. The studies have been used widely in the development planning system.

Since the studies were produced there have been:

  • significant advances in digital technology
  • additional complementary datasets produced e.g. Historic Landuse Assessment
  • changes in development patterns and pressures.

In response to those changes we have reviewed Scotland’s 1990s LCAs at the level of Landscape Character Type (LCT) – i.e. an area of consistent and recognisable landscape character.  Building on the original LCA studies, a single dataset has been created which can be viewed within the Scottish Landscape Character Types Map and Descriptions.  This has made the information easier to access and the mapping much clearer. More detail on how we carried out the review is available within the LCA Introduction and Review Methodology document.  We have produced a summary of the main differences between 1990 and 2019 maps.

The 2019 Landscape Character Type map and associated Landscape Character Type Descriptions now supersede the 1990s landscape character descriptions and mapping.  They should be used for new development proposals, plans and strategies, and so on.  Where current proposals or projects have analysis based on the 1990s LCT dataset that should still be used.  It should be noted which dataset has been used. Where there are topic-specific landscape capacity or sensitivity studies, they would take precedence for informing that development type, e.g. wind farms.  Many of the 1990s LCAs contained "Landscape Sensitivities" and "Forces for Change" sections.  Many of these have become dated, for example planning policy references and turbine heights.  The 2019 NatureScot LCA has not updated these.  Some of the details, such as settlement pattern analysis in some reports, may still be useful.  This can be accessed from the reports via the above link.

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Find out more

Overview of Scotland’s National Programme of Landscape Character Assessment: NatureScot Commissioned Report No. 29
Landscape Character Vignettes: NatureScot Commissioned Report No. F99NB07

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