When we carry out landscape and visual impact assessments (LVIAs), for example of wind turbines, we aim to be objective, in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations which provide the context for LVIA, and in accordance with essential guidance from Scottish Natural Heritage and our own Institute, the Landscape Institute.
We certainly try not to create “the case for” the development. We read many such assessments and consider that they lack credibility and ultimately harm their client’s interests and their writers’ credibility. But we don’t always get external feedback to confirm that we are meeting the standards we set ourselves. Thus it was very helpful when a planning inspector included comments on one of our recent LVIAs in a Decision Notice - extracts as follows:
The proposed turbine would have a simple linear form reaching some 50m combined with the associated blade movement with a maximum tip height of 66.7m. It would appear as a modern, manufactured structure that would be visible both from public roads and footpaths. However, given the unassuming agricultural character of the land and the relatively open landform, it would not appear discordant in scale when seen in more distant views. In this respect I agree with the findings of the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA), undertaken to accompany the planning application, which makes assessments of the visual impact of the proposed turbine on the landscape in the medium to low range.
Closer to, the functional link to the poultry buildings and their footprint would provide a visual anchor. The associated substation compound building, access track and hardstanding areas would also be more readily absorbed because of the relationship to the existing building and its associated hard surfaced areas. The slender form of the single turbine is such that views of the surrounding farmed landscape would not be significantly interrupted. Thus, whilst a medium to high sensitivity for the closest public right of way has been identified in the LVIA, I do not disagree with its overall conclusion that the scheme would be acceptable in landscape terms.
Neither do we disagree.