Planning Portal

Draft PPS18: Renewable Energy
Annex 1 Wind Energy Landscape and Visual Impact: Visual Impact

A58. Turbines in wind farms will normally be tall (up to 100m+), frequently located in open land, and therefore will often be highly visible. Domestic turbines will be smaller (generally less than 15m). It will normally be unrealistic to seek to conceal them. Developers should seek to ensure that through good siting and design, landscape and visual impacts are limited and appropriate to the location. The visual impact will be dependent on the distance over which a wind farm may be viewed, whether the turbines can be viewed adjacent to other features, different weather conditions, the scale and layout of the development and the landscape and nature of the visibility. The following is a general guide to the effect which distance has on the perception of the development in an open landscape.

General Perception of a Wind Farm in an Open Landscape:

Up to 2kms Likely to be a prominent feature
2-5kms Relatively prominent
5-15kms Prominent in clear visibility - seen as part of the wider landscape
15-30kms Only seen in very clear visibility - a minor element in the landscape
A59. The visual impact of wind farms will be affected by their siting and layout in relation to local land form and landscape characteristics, and the qualities of the specific site, as well as by the number and arrangement of turbines. Different layouts will be appropriate in different circumstances. For example, grouped turbines can normally appear acceptable as a single, isolated feature in an open, undeveloped landscape, while rows of turbines may be more appropriate in a flatter agricultural landscape with formal field boundaries. Although wind farms may be complex, they should not appear confusing in relation to the character of the landscape. Ideally they should be separate from surrounding features to create a simple image. The design of each development must be appropriate to its site. The study commissioned by EHS (ref. paragraph A57) will consider this matter in more detail.
A60. The style and colour of turbines can also be relevant. Experience suggests that solid towers appear less complex than lattice and tapering towers are generally regarded as being more elegant than cylindrical. In terms of colour, white or off-white is generally preferred, but other colours may be acceptable in appropriate circumstances. A semi-matt surface is required to reduce the reflection of light. However, colour choice can not be a substitute for good siting and design.
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