Chapter 9 presented an overview of the development of environmental protection in the countryside in the UK over the last 100 years and introduced the role of planning in this context. It also provided a critique of the system of controls that has emerged. From an environmental perspective, traditional approaches to environmental protection in rural areas have been criticised for being too fragmented and simplistic, while from an economic and social perspective there has been concern that goals of environmental protection have been given undue weight and have hampered the ability of rural communities to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. From all perspectives calls for a more integrated, multi-functional, forward-looking and locally sensitive approach to rural planning are evident. Following on from the discussion in Chapter 9, this chapter looks in more detail at the key environmental designations that have emerged, their roots, rationale and possible future development in light of current understanding. This is followed by an exploration of ways in which contemporary environmental understanding, particularly within the fi eld of landscape ecology, could provide a solid foundation for the development of a new approach to rural planning and the key role that the new spatial planning system could play in delivering such an approach and achieving a better balance between economic, social and environmental interests in rural areas.