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Glossary of terms

Glossary of terms

  • Air Quality Management Area (AQMA)

    A defined area which is declared by a Local Authority where it is found that national air quality objectives (which set out maximum pollutant levels) are unlikely to be achieved. Normally the relevant Local Authority will put together a plan to improve air quality, called a Local Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP).

  • Battlefield (Historic Battlefield)

    An area which has been historically associated with an historic battle, and which is included in a national register. This is a non-statutory designation but is a material issue when determining planning applications.

  • Buffer

    An area surrounding a site or feature that is subject to environmental protections, shown by a line on its outer perimeter. The area is subject to particular constraints relating to the protected site or feature, as set out in the relevant policy.

  • Conservation Area

    An area designated for special architectural or historic interest which should be preserved or enhanced.

  • Ecoserv

    Ecoserv GIS is a GIS tool which has been developed by the South Downs National Park Authority to provide a spatial interpretation of the Ecosystem Services approach set out in the Local Plan. Maps show in spatial form the relative capacity and demand for the following services: Accessible Nature; Air Purification; Carbon Storage; Education; Green Travel; Local Climate Change Regulation; Noise Regulation; Pollination; Water Purification; Landscape Qualities.  Further information is contained in the Mapping of Ecosystem Services within the South Downs National Park using the EcoServ GIS Tool technical note. These support interpretation of Policy SD2: Ecosystem Services and provide evidence to inform all types of development in the National Park.

  • International Nature Conservation Designations

    Areas subject to the strongest level of environmental protection, as set out in the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. These are referred to in Policy SD9: Biodiversity and Geodiversity and specifically are:

    • Ramsar sites

    Sites of nature conservation importance recognised under the Ramsar Convention (formally, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat), which is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands, to stem the encroachment on and loss of wetlands, recognising the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific and recreational value.

    • Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

    Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are strictly protected sites designated under the EC Habitats Directive. Article 3 of the Habitats Directive requires the establishment of a European network of important high-quality conservation sites that will make a significant contribution to conserving the 189 habitat types and 788 species identified in Annexes I and II of the Directive (as amended). The listed habitat types and species are those considered to be most in need of conservation at a European level (excluding birds). Of the Annex I habitat types, 78 are believed to occur in the UK. Of the Annex II species, 43 are native to, and normally resident in, the UK.

    • Special Protection Areas (SPAs)

    An area of land, water or sea which has been identified as being of international importance for the breeding, feeding, wintering or the migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds found within the European Union. SPAs are European designated sites, classified under the European Wild Birds Directive which affords them enhanced protection.

    • Local Green Space(s)  

    A designation introduced by the NPPF (para.76). The NPPF states that the designation should only be used: where the green space is in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves, where the green area is demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife, and where the green area concerned is local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.

    • Local Nature Conservation Designation

    A locally designated geological or wildlife site. These are usually designated through the local planning process. These specifically are Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI), Local Wildlife Sites (LWS), Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC), Local Nature Reserves (LNR) and Local Geodiversity Sites (LGS). These are referred to in Policy SD9: Biodiversity and Geodiversity.

    • Marine Conservation Zone

    Designated areas within English and Welsh territorial waters and UK offshore waters, that protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology.

    • Minerals Safeguarding Area

    Areas of known mineral resources that are of sufficient economic or conservation value to warrant protection for generations to come.

    • National Nature Conservation Designation

    Sites designated under UK legislation as being of national importance for biodiversity or geodiversity and are afforded statutory protection due to the nationally significant wildlife features that they contain. These are referred to in Policy SD9: Biodiversity and Geodiversity and specifically are:

    • National Nature Reserves (NNRs)

    Represent many of the finest wildlife and geological sites in the country. The first NNRs emerged in the post-war years alongside the early National Parks, and have continued to grow since then. NNRs were initially established to protect sensitive features and to provide ‘outdoor laboratories’ for research but their purpose has widened since then. As well as managing some of the most pristine habitats, our rarest species and our most significant geology, most NNRs now offer great opportunities to the public as well as schools and specialist audiences to experience England’s natural heritage.

    • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

    A selection of the country’s very best wildlife and geological sites. There are over 4,100 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in England, covering around seven per cent of the land area. Over half of these sites, by area, are internationally important for their wildlife, and designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) or Ramsar sites. Many SSSIs are also National Nature Reserves (NNRs) or Local Nature Reserves (LNRs).

  • Registered Parks and Gardens

    Parks and gardens identified by Historic England assessed to be of particular historic significance. Planning authorities must consider the impact of any proposed development on the special character of these sites.

  • South Downs Indicative Landscape Character (Landscape Qualities)

    An indicative characterisation and description of the landscape in terms of distinct patterns and elements that distinguish them from each other. These categorisations and descriptions are derived from the South Downs Integrated Landscape Character Assessment (SDILCA), and provide important evidence to help achieve a landscape-led approach to development.


"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."