Environmental sensitivity to change | Oxfordshire County Council

Environmental sensitivity to change

A study to understand and plan to minimise the impact to land in Oxfordshire

About the study

In 2016 we commissioned a study to understand how susceptible to change was land throughout Oxfordshire. 

The purpose of the study was to help us to understand how best to develop policies and plans that minimise the impact on certain aspects of the countryside.

The study was undertaken by Land Use Consultants Ltd. 

Environmental themes

The study looked at a number of environmental themes.  These were:

  • biodiversity and geodiversity Assets
  • landscape and visual assets
  • archaeology and heritage assets
  • community and greenspace assets
  • land use assets
  • water assets
  • public access assets.

Within each theme existing mapped data from public sources or that was already held by the county council was drawn together and classified against a simple standardised framework as to whether it was of higher, moderate or lower sensitivity to change. 

Once the classification was created for each theme the data was re-mapped using one of three colours for the higher (red), moderate (blue) and lower (yellow) sensitivity.

In this way a picture of environmental sensitivity can be presented in a consistent way for each theme across the county.

As a final step the data for all the themes were combined into one single map showing the highest category of sensitivity at any particular point.


As would be expected with a study of this kind there are range of assumptions and points of detail that need to be borne in mind. 

Notable among these are:

  • the maps are not an alternative to professional interpretation of the significance and sensitivity of any environmental feature.  They are intended as a guide to be used at a strategic planning level.
  • while the study included a wide range of environmental data not all environmental features are included on the maps.  The absence of a classification does not imply that there is no environmental interest at that particular location. The data were believed correct at the point of use but are subject to change over time.
  • the maps are produced at a resolution where the mapped unit is a 50mx50m square.  This was to ensure that even small and linear sites would still be captured in the final mapping.  As a result the mapped boundaries of classes are deliberately ‘fuzzy’.

Full report download

For further information about the study and lower resolution copies of the theme maps you can download a copy of the full report (pdf format, 10Mb). This is a very large file so may take some time to download.


Please note that the maps and the report are copyright Land use Consultants Ltd and include data that are copyright of other organisations.Crown copyright and database rights of other organisations are reserved.You are not permitted to copy, sub-licence, distribute or sell any of this data to third parties in any form.

Last reviewed
14 June 2017
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