Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Environmental Quality

2.27 The landscape is mainly undulating, agricultural land with some very fertile belts that have traditionally been farmed for top quality food production such as apples and dairy produce. Topography and agricultural practices have helped to secure special status for outstanding landscapes such as the rolling Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to the south west, a small part of the Cranborne Chase and West Wilts AONB to the north east, and Dorset AONB running along the southern boundary of the District.

2.28 South Somerset is well known for its areas of high nature conservation value. The European designation of Special Protection Area and Ramsar[1] site applies to parts of the Somerset Levels and Moors in the north of the district, renowned for its wetland interest and extensive bird populations, and there are two other National Nature Reserves, at Hardington Moor and Barrington Hill, near Ilminster. In addition there are currently 39 Sites of Special Scientific Interest covering 2789 hectares and around 570 County Wildlife Sites covering 6291 hectares of semi-natural habitat, and together these represent just over 6% of the District's area. Broad-leaved and mixed woodland accounts for about a third of this area, while unimproved grassland accounts for about 15%. A further 54 Private Nature Reserves, covering 203 ha, are registered with the Somerset Wildlife Trust, to add to the rich ecological diversity of the district. Just west of Yeovil is the heritage site of Ham Hill Country Park.

2.29 There are air quality issues associated with traffic congestion in the middle of Yeovil with the entire town identified as an Air Quality Management Area.

1. Designated by the Ramsar Convention (The Convention on Wetland of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat) as a term to identify wetland sites of international importance [back]