Draft PPS 18: Renewable Energy
Policy RE 1 Justification & Amplification: Landscape & Visual Effects of Renewable Energy Development
4.17. The landscape and visual effects of particular renewable energy developments will vary on a case by case basis according to the type of development, its location and the landscape setting of the proposed development. Some of these effects may be minimised through appropriate siting, design and landscaping schemes, depending on the size and type of development proposed. To assist assessment by the Department proposals should be accompanied by objective descriptive material and analysis wherever possible even though the final decision on the visual and landscape effects will be, to some extent, one made by professional judgement. Advice on proposals for wind energy development is set out in Annex 1.
4.18. Of all renewable technologies, wind turbines are likely to have the greatest visual and landscape effects. However, in assessing planning applications, the Department recognises that the impact of turbines on the landscape will vary according to the size and number of turbines and the type of landscape involved, and that some of these impacts may be temporary if conditions are attached to planning permissions which require the future decommissioning of turbines.
4.19. The Department’s Environment and Heritage Service has commissioned a study of all 130 Landscape Character Areas identified within the Northern Ireland Landscape Character Assessment 2000 having specific regard to potential wind energy developments. This study will assess the capacity of the landscape, including Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to accommodate such development and will identify those characteristics that may be sensitive to wind energy development. Within such broad Landscape Character Areas there will inevitably be areas of varying sensitivity with different implications for development.
4.20. When this study is completed, the Department will expect landscape assessments of wind energy developments to be informed by this analysis.