By Cameron Brooks

New guidelines have been produced to help developers, planning bosses and
consultees get a better idea of how wind turbines will look on the landscape.

Conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Heads of Planning
Scotland (HoPS) have drawn up the guidance to assist planning authorities
and ensure decisions were based on “robust information”.

Visualisations – maps, photomontages and drawings – are used by developers
to support planning applications and help councils and the public to
consider potential landscape and visual effects.

Anti-windfarm campaigner Lyndsay Ward, of Kiltarlity in the Highlands, said
she hoped the advice would make a “real difference”, but admitted she was
not confident developers would treat it with respect.

The guidance standardises photographic requirements, provides better
representations of proposed windfarms and specifies larger images which are
easier for the public and decision makers to use.

It recommends new digital methods to make it easier to view images online
and recommends that viewpoints out to 12 miles should be illustrated.

It highlights the need a so-called zone of theoretical visibility maps to
show where a wind farm would be visible from.

The guidance, backed by the Scottish Government, Landscape Institute,
Scottish Renewables and HoPS, will be phased in over six months.

SNH policy and advice manager Brendan Turvey said: “No visualisation can
ever represent exactly what the wind farm will look like, due to different
weather conditions, lighting, and turbine movement. But we think this is as
good as we can recommend using current methods and technology.

“The guidance is part of our efforts to improve the assessment of wind farm
applications and help get the right developments in the right places.

“It will ensure images are easier to use and give a clearer impression of
how the wind farm would sit in the landscape.”

He added the guidance would make it easier to illustrate the cumulative
effects of developments.

SAS Volunteer

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