A growing appreciation of the significance of landscape in the world of planning and development is evident in the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act 2000, which states that in making a development plan every planning authority must include objectives for the preservation of the character of the landscape, including the preservaton of views and prospects. The preservation of the amenities of places, and of features of natural beauty or interest, must also be considered.

Landscape of Character Areas
Courtesy of Kildare County Development Plan Figure 18.1.

A good example of how local authorities have interpreted this requirement is in the Kildare County Development Plan 2005-2011. Chapter 18, pp27-60 of Volume 2 of this plan, is devoted to the topic of 'landscape character areas'. Five major types of landscape area are identified. These are uplands, lowlands, a transition area, river valleys and water corridors, and special or other landscape units (specifically the Robertstown Countryside, Pollardstown Fen and the remnant bogs of the Bogs of Allen). The five major landscapes are in turn subdivided into nineteen sub-units. For each landscape type the plan provides a description with a perspective on land uses, boundaries, critical landscape factors and the planning policy context. 'Critical landscape factors' includes consideration  of such topics as elevated vistas, prominent ridgelines, undulating topography, vegetation characteristics and localised river views.