Draft PPS18: Renewable Energy
Annex 1 Small Hydro Planning Issues: Siting & the landscape
E18. As with several renewable sources of energy, it is usually only possible to exploit hydropower resources where they occur. Hydro schemes do however enjoy modest locational flexibility as the precise siting of the intake and the turbine house can sometimes be influenced by non-operational factors, including local landscape characteristics.
E19. Consideration should be given to integrating a new scheme into the landscape as far as possible. Where rivers are lined with trees, for instance, it will be relatively simple to conceal hydropower facilities, particularly if the existing woodland cover is supplemented by new planting. Where the development is taking place in a more open location, built elements should either be designed to be as small as possible, having regard to operational considerations, or should be designed to be in keeping with local landscape and architectural features. In the case of schemes proposed for hillsides or other prominent locations, the landscape impact of the development in close and distant views should be appraised. Careful consideration should be given to burying the pipeline and restoration of the pipeline route.
E20. In some cases, the visual appearance of waterfalls may be affected by water abstraction. In these cases, consideration should be given to potential viewers, and to the importance of the waterfall in immediate and longer distance views. Assessment of effects can usefully include photographs of the waterfalls at various flows, as existing summer flows may match the proposed flows after abstraction during the wetter months. Measures could be adopted to overcome visual objections, such as requiring abstraction to be reduced during the day in summer months when visitors are most likely to be present.
E21. Measures to minimise the visual impact of pipes and power lines should also be considered carefully at the design and planning application stages.