SAS has commented on the launch of consultation on SNH’s revised guidance on windfarm visualisation*. We haven’t see the new draft guidance yet but expect to make a detailed contribution. In the meantime the bible on this subject – and the reason why SNH is revising its guidance – is Alan Macdonald’s Windfarm Visualisation. Perspective or Perception? You can find out more about Alan’s work at

This announcement is a bittersweet moment for those desperate to see a planning system for windfarms fit for purpose. SNH is heading in the right direction in trying to get visualisations that are more representative of what we would all see, but it is too little, too late for great tracts of Scotland already ruined by wind development.

Almost two years ago Energy Minister Fergus Ewing asked for this review following Inverness architect Alan MacDonald’s groundbreaking work on perception and windfarm visualisation. It proved how developers routinely use pseudo-science to hoodwink decision-makers into thinking turbines hundreds of feet in height will be relatively small and benign intrusions into the landscape.

Yet draft guidance is only now being published, and despite an extraordinarily truncated public consultation period, it won’t actually be usable before the end of the year at the earliest. Even then, local authorities will still be able to ignore it as many do with other SNH guidance on industrial wind development.

If the Scottish Government were genuine about wanting to check the scourge of wind development, it would let SNH safeguard Scotland’s natural heritage as it was set up to do. As SNH and other government officials spend years improving planning guidance, the windfarm free-for-all in which developers are free to mislead politicians and public alike will continue unabated.