Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will begin consultation this Thursday (23 May) on new, revised guidance for producing visualisations for proposed wind farms. The consultation will be launched at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen.
The new guidance describes how wind farm developers should visually represent their proposal in their planning application, including detailed instructions on the photographs to be used. It also updates existing guidance on mapped information and has a new a section on offshore wind farms.
It aims to provide a consistent and proportionate way of presenting visual information. These are key aspirations in the Regulatory Reform Bill currently being considered by Parliament.
The guidance updates “Visual Representation of wind farms”, published by SNH in 2006. The organisation says the proposed changes should increase public confidence in the use of photography in planning applications and result in clearer depictions of the proposed wind farm.
The consultation, which runs until 19 July, suggests a number of key changes to the way visualisations are produced and used. They include recommending images are presented at a new focal length of 75mm, increasing the size of images to 260mm in height, and making the images easier to use by removing the need to view them curved and at an exact distance. A key requirement is for larger panoramic images to provide the wider landscape and visual context.
Brendan Turvey, SNH policy and advice manager for renewables, said: “The new approach seeks to combine the standards published by The Highland Council in 2010 with our existing guidance. The improvements should increase public confidence in the images produced and lead to a clearer representation of what the wind farm would really look like. We look forward to hearing the views of developers, planning officers and members of the public on the changes proposed and then working with our partners to finalise the new guidance.”
The consultation will include a workshop on 17 June at SNH’s Battleby Centre near Perth. After the consultation ends on 19 July, SNH will work with The Highland Council, Scottish Government, Scottish Renewables, Landscape Institute and Heads of Planning Scotland to finalise the new guidance, which it aims to publish by the end of the year. Until then, the existing guidance, which is still applicable, will remain in place. Brendan Turvey said: “The existing SNH guidance is still fit for purpose and should be used until we publish revised guidance later this year.”