Visualisation of windfarms

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) published Visual Representation of Wind Farms: Good Practice Guidance in March 2006. This was replaced in July 2014 by Visual Representation of Wind Farms version 2. In December 2014, Version 2.1 replaced the July guidance with immediate effect (SNH2014) and in February 2017 Version 2.2 came into effect.

When Version 2 of SNH2014 was published, Scottish Natural Heritage recognised that baseline photography was expensive and that it was often captured well in advance of the submission of an Environmental Statement. As a result, they agreed a grace period of 6 months from the publication of version 2 in which visualisations produced under the 2006 guidance could still be submitted. Since January 2015 they have expected all visualisations to comply with version 2.1.

This guidance from SNH has been endorsed by the LI for this purpose and in the rest of the UK, subject to the two caveats below:

• “Different landscapes, types of wind farms and conditions in other countries may require different approaches” (Version 2.1 paragraph 6).

• “It is recognised that smaller scale wind farm proposals (up to 3 turbines) and single turbine applications do not usually require the same level of visual representation” (Version 2.X paragraph 7 which also refers to Scottish Natural Heritage’s guidance on assessing small scale wind farms).

Recognising the principle of the need to take a proportionate approach, and the specific scope of the SNH guidance as endorsed, the SNH guidance nonetheless gives useful insight into visualisation techniques in general which may be helpful in developing approaches in other situations.

From time to time there has been criticism of the LI’s endorsement of SNH2014.  The LI notes in particular Alan Macdonald’s Review of SNH 2014 and the views expressed in this document but is satisfied that the guidance given in SNH 2014 is fit for purpose.

The LI arranged for Brendan Turvey to give a webinar which explains the SNH guidance.