Landscape Capacity Study for Wind Farm ... - North Ayrshire Council

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Landscape Capacity Study for Wind Farm ... - North Ayrshire Council

Landscape Capacity Study for Wind Farm

Development in North Ayrshire

PHASE ONE REPORT

Carol Anderson

Alison Grant

Landscape Architects

October 2009


LANDSCAPE CAPACITY STUDY FOR WIND FARM DEVELOPMENT

WITHIN NORTH AYRSHIRE

FINAL PHASE ONE REPORT

OCTOBER 2009


CONTENTS

1. Background Page

Introduction to the study 4

Planning context 4

Other relevant landscape capacity studies 5

Aims of the study 6

2. Methodology

Background 7

Definition of terms 7

The study area 8

General approach 8

Development typologies 9

Existing and proposed wind farm development 10

Assessment of landscape sensitivity 11

Views and visibility analysis 12

Landscape designations 12

Cumulative landscape and visual effects 13

3. Introduction to the Sensitivity Assessment

Ayrshire and Clyde Valley wind farm landscape capacity study 15

Review of landscape character 16

Landscape and visual sensitivity assessment 17

4. Sensitivity of Landscape Character Areas

Loch Thom area 18

Duchal Moor 20

The Upland Core 22

The Blaeloch and Crosbie Hills area 24

Haupland Muir 27

Raised Beach Coast 29

Intimate Pastoral Valley 31

Rolling Hill Fringes 32

5. Cumulative Effects

Introduction 34

Existing wind farm development 34

Potential cumulative landscape and visual effects 35

Conclusions 39

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6. Conclusions on Capacity

Summary of findings 40

A spatial strategy for wind farm development 41

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1: Study Area

Figure 2: Survey Information

Figure 3: Broad Landscape Character Types

Figure 4: Detailed Landscape Character Sub-divisions

Figure 5: Cumulative visualisation from Irvine Beach

Figure 6: Cumulative visualisation from A737 at Highfield

Figure 7: Cumulative visualisation from Lion Rock, Great Cumbrae

Figure 8: Cumulative visualisation from Kilchattan Bay, Bute

Figure 9: Key Landscape and Visual Constraints

Figure 10: Photographs of Key Landscape Features

APPENDICES

Appendix A: References

Appendix B: Review of specific wind farm proposals

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1. Background

Introduction to the study

1.1 North Ayrshire Council commissioned a landscape capacity study for wind

farm development in May 2008. This report considers landscape and visual

capacity for wind farm development in the upland area of mainland North

Ayrshire and the immediate adjoining area, which was initially considered in

the study. A second phase of the study considered the remainder of North

Ayrshire with findings set out in a separate Phase Two report.

Planning context

1.2 The landscape capacity study has been prepared in response to the

requirement set out within Scottish Planning Policy 6 Renewable Energy

(SPP6) that local authorities make positive provision for renewable energy

developments by guiding development to appropriate locations and providing

clarity on the issues that will be taken into account when assessing specific

proposals. The capacity study will provide greater refinement at the local level

to assist with SPG for wind farms and to inform decision-making on planning

applications for wind farm development.

1.3 The SPP6 states that Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) should be

prepared to provide a basis for decision making on wind farm developments.

Development plans should set out a spatial framework, supported by broad

criteria, for the consideration of wind farm proposals over 20 megawatts, with

areas of search identified where projects will be supported subject to specific

proposals satisfactorily addressing all other material considerations. Areas

that will be given significant protection from wind farms over 20 megawatts

should also be identified. These include areas where national and

international natural heritage or green belt designations apply or where

development would result in unacceptable cumulative impacts.

1.4 Annex A of the SPP6 stresses further the need to give careful consideration

to cumulative impacts and states that ”Development plans should identify

those areas where there are existing wind farm developments and set out, in

relation to the scale and proximity of further development, the critical factors

which are likely to present an eventual limit to development. Consideration

may need to be given to whether in some instances, such limits have already

been reached and, if this is the case, planning authorities should use spatial

policies to identify the extent of those areas which will be afforded significant

protection from further development.”

1.5 PAN 45 (Annex 2) provides additional advice on the preparation of SPG,

including spatial frameworks, for wind farm development. It states that a

spatial framework should be sufficiently detailed to provide a basis for

decision making on specific applications. It should identify areas of significant

protection together with other constraints and policy criteria; it should refine

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emaining areas with no significant constraints and identify broad areas of

search for wind farm development.

1.6 SPP6 recognises the importance of consideration of medium and smaller

scale renewable technologies including micro-generation projects. This

smaller type of development is considered in more detail in PAN 45 as is the

need to consider single turbines and to provide advice on what environmental

information will be required from developers.

1.7 SPP6 states the importance of identifying areas where there are existing wind

farm developments and the critical factors which are likely to present an

eventual limit to further development. PAN 45 provides further guidance on

the assessment of cumulative landscape and visual impacts of multiple wind

farm developments and states that…”it may be appropriate to provide

significant protection to the areas between wind farms or clusters of wind

farms when analysis shows that their visual separation should be

maintained”.

1.8 Landscape capacity studies have an important role in the preparation of SPG

in that they provide an indication of the sensitivity of landscapes to various

forms of wind farm development as well as potential impacts on views and

visibility and cumulative landscape and visual effects. This study considers

only landscape and visual issues and a range of other environmental and

technical issues also require to be considered in drawing up SPG and spatial

frameworks for wind farm development. The study takes no account of

internationally or nationally important nature conservation designations which

may constrain wind farm development.

Other relevant landscape capacity studies

1.9 The Ayrshire and Clyde Valley Windfarm Landscape Capacity Study was

commissioned in 2004 by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Ayrshire Joint

Structure Plan and Transportation Committee and Glasgow and the Clyde

Valley Structure Plan Joint Committee and undertaken by Land Use

Consultants (LUC). This study is henceforth called the ‘LUC capacity study’ in

this report.

1.10 The LUC capacity study has been undertaken at a strategic level and covers

an extensive area. It considers the sensitivity of the broad landscape

character types defined in the SNH published landscape character

assessments, including the Ayrshire Landscape Assessment (1998), to wind

energy development. A caveat to the LUC capacity study is outlined in

paragraph 1.15 of the study report which states that while the results of the

study …”are useful in comparing different parts of the study area, they should

not be used to consider single windfarms in isolation. More local landscape

capacity studies, together with landscape and visual assessment are required

for this”.

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1.11 The LUC capacity study informed wind energy policy within the Ayrshire Joint

Structure Plan (AJSP) approved in November 2007. A key conclusion

reached from the LUC capacity study was that irrespective of the level of wind

energy development ultimately achieved within the Ayrshire area, a planned

approach, based on the concentration of development into a smaller number

of larger wind farms would help reduce the overall level of landscape and

visual impact. Two broad areas of search were consequently identified in the

AJSP.

1.12 Further review of the methodology and the principal findings of the LUC

capacity study in relation to North Ayrshire are contained in Section 3 of this

report.

Aims of the study

1.13 The aim of this study is to provide advice to the Council on landscape and

visual issues related to wind farm development sited within North Ayrshire,

identifying areas where turbines could be located causing least visual

intrusion and impact on landscape character and where development would

be unacceptable in terms of potential significant landscape and visual impact.

1.14 Since the LUC capacity study was produced in 2004, two wind farms have

been constructed within the study area at Ardrossan and Wardlaw Wood. A

further wind farm proposal at Kelburn has recently been recommended for

consent following a Public Local Inquiry (PLI) held in June 2008.

1.15 A number of applications have also been lodged for wind farm proposals

within the uplands of mainland North Ayrshire which form the focus of this

priority area of study. There is therefore potential for cumulative effects to

arise between existing, consented and proposed wind farm developments

and this new 2009 landscape capacity study aims to update the previous

assessment work undertaken in the LUC capacity study. It also provides a

greater level of detail in line with the advice set out in SPP6 and PAN 45

(Annex 2) to enable individual applications for wind farms to be assessed

against clear criteria by the planning authority.

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2. Methodology

Background

2.1 Landscape capacity is described in Landscape Character Assessment:

Guidance for England and Scotland (2002, Countryside Agency and Scottish

Natural Heritage) as ‘the degree to which a particular landscape character

type or area is able to accommodate change without significant effects on its

character, or overall change of landscape character type. Capacity is likely to

vary according to the type and nature of change being proposed”.

2.2 There is no specific published guidance for assessing sensitivity and capacity

for onshore wind energy development although Topic Paper 6: Techniques

and Criteria for Judging Capacity and Sensitivity, forming part of the

Landscape Character Assessment Guidance issued by the Countryside

Agency in 2004, provides discussion of various methodologies adopted for

landscape capacity studies. This is an area of work which is relatively new

and where methodologies are still developing. Scottish Natural Heritage has

been involved in considering methods of assessing landscape sensitivities to

wind energy development and a number of landscape capacity studies have

been undertaken in Scotland and elsewhere, further developing assessment

methodologies in considering sensitivity to wind energy development.

2.3 The methodology of this study has been informed by previous work and by

review of landscape capacity studies for onshore wind energy undertaken for

Breckland and West Norfolk (LUC 2003), Ayrshire and the Clyde Valley (LUC

2004), East Lothian (CA, 2005), Midlothian (CA, 2007) and Stirlingshire

(horner+maclennan, 2008). These studies are principally based on an

assessment of the sensitivity of key attributes of landscape character to

different forms of wind energy development. However, there are differences

as to how the assessment applies these criteria between some studies and

this illustrates the innovative nature of this work.

Definition of terms

Landscape Character

2.4 Landscape relates not only to the physical attributes of the land but also to

the experience of the receptor. Landscape character is made up of physical

characteristics of land such as landform, woodland pattern etc (which exist

whether anyone sees them or not) plus a range of perceptual responses to

that landscape.

Landscape Sensitivity

2.5 Sensitivity relates to landscape character and how vulnerable this is to

change. In this study, change relates to wind energy development and any

findings on landscape sensitivity are restricted to this. Landscapes may have

different sensitivities to other forms of change or development. Landscapes

which are highly sensitive are at risk of having their key characteristics

fundamentally altered by development and change may result in a different

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landscape character. Sensitivity is assessed by considering the physical

characteristics and the perceptual characteristics of landscapes.

Landscape Capacity

2.6 This relates to how far a landscape can absorb or accommodate

development without a fundamental change in character. Landscape

character and sensitivity are part of this, but in some studies, capacity can

also include visibility assessment and any values (in the form of designations)

relating to that landscape and judgements as to whether change was

acceptable or not. Therefore a landscape which has high sensitivity in terms

of potential effects on its character would not necessarily have a low capacity

and vice versa as there are other factors which need to evaluated. In this

capacity study visibility is considered as part of the sensitivity assessment

although landscape designations are not. The reasons for this are explained

in 2.26 below.

The study area

2.7 The study area focuses on the uplands of mainland North Ayrshire and the

landscapes fringing them. It includes a ‘buffer’ where inter-visibility issues

associated with wind farm development sited within the CMRP are also

considered. Figure 1 shows this wider study area. The assessment considers

detailed sensitivity of landscape character types lying wholly or partially within

the CMRP of North Ayrshire only. No similarly detailed assessment has been

provided of landscapes and seascapes lying within the Firth of Clyde to the

west although the islands of Great and Little Cumbrae will be considered

within Phase 2 of this study along with the remainder of mainland North

Ayrshire and Arran.

General Approach

2.8 Our approach considered sensitivity on the basis of different landscape

character types, defined in published character assessments but also refined

through field survey. The wider relationship and inter-visibility between

character areas and over the wider study area was also explored within the

priority area, this being particularly pertinent to the assessment of cumulative

effects.

2.9 This is a focussed study providing further analysis and detail, building on the

strategic LUC capacity study but supplementing the findings of this study to

include consideration of distinctions in the landscape character and in the

experiential qualities associated with the uplands and the landscapes fringing

them which form the focus of the priority area. It also provides an updated

assessment of potential cumulative landscape and visual impacts of multiple

wind energy developments within the study area in accordance with the

advice set out in PAN 45 Annex 2.

2.10 The study was undertaken in the following broad stages:

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� Consultation and review of guidance and recent capacity studies to

develop an assessment method, define a study area and confirm criteria

to be used in the sensitivity assessment

� Identification of wind energy development typologies to be considered in

the assessment

� Review of SNH published Landscape Character Assessments (LCAs)

covering Ayrshire and Glasgow and the Clyde Valley and other more

detailed landscape character assessment undertaken for the Clyde

Muirshiel Regional Park.

� Review of landscape and visual impact assessments within the

Environmental Statements (ES) produced for a range of wind farm

proposals located within the priority area.

� Field work to refine character areas outlined in the LCAs, assess

landscape sensitivity, identify views and other key visual issues and

potential cumulative landscape and visual effects

� Assessment of the sensitivity of detailed landscape character areas to

various forms of wind farm development against sensitivity criteria

including consideration of views and visibility and the relationship to other

landscape character areas and role in the wider landscape composition

� Assessment of the capacity to accommodate wind farm development

considering landscape character, views and visibility and cumulative

factors.

� Detailed landscape and visual appraisal of the wind farm proposals of

Millour Hill, Wings Law and Kaim Hill which are located within the priority

area.

Development typologies

2.11 The development typologies listed below have been considered in the study.

All turbine heights are to blade tip.

1. Large scale wind farm development (multiple turbines 100m-140m high)

2. Medium scale wind farm development (multiple turbines 70-100m high

turbines

3. ‘Community’ scale wind farm development (single and multiple turbines

30-70m)

4. Small scale turbine/wind farm development (single and multiple turbines

15-30m high)

5. Extensions to existing wind farms

6. Single turbine developments over 70m high

2.12 Although the smaller turbines of typologies 3 and 4 may currently be

considered by the wind energy industry to be unfeasible in terms of

manufacture and economics, we felt it would be useful to assess these in the

study as future technology and funding arrangements may encourage such

developments to occur. The consideration of smaller development typologies

also accords with the requirements set out in SPP6 and PAN 45. This phase

of the study does not however, consider landscape and visual issues

associated with micro-generation wind energy devices.

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Existing and proposed wind farm developments

2.13 A number of existing and proposed wind farm developments are located

within or close to the study area. These are shown on Figure 2.

Existing wind farm developments

2.14 The Ardrossan wind farm was constructed in 2004. It comprises 12 turbines

of 100m height to blade tip. Consent has been gained for an extension of 3

additional turbines to this wind farm and these have been constructed since

the main field survey work was undertaken in 2008. The Wardlaw wind farm

comprises 6 turbines, measuring 125m height to blade tip.

Proposed wind farm developments

2.15 A number of wind farm developments were proposed within the core upland

area during the main phase of survey and assessment in summer 2008. A

review was undertaken of the Environmental Statements produced for the

proposals listed in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Proposed wind farm developments

Proposal Number

of turbines

Height

to blade tip

Wings Law 24 125m

Millour Hill 6 125m

Kaim Hill 5 125m

Waterhead

Moor

44 100m

Kelburn 14 100m

Leapmoor

(Inverkip)

10 125m

2.16 The Kelburn wind farm proposal has recently been recommended for

approval following PLI and it has therefore been assumed that this wind farm

is developed as part of the baseline situation for the study.

2.17 The proposed wind farm development at Leapmoor (Inverkip) was withdrawn

in 2009 while the Waterhead Moor proposal has been reduced to 29 turbines

of 112m height with a new environmental impact assessment expected to be

submitted in August 2009.

2.18 A range of computer generated visibility mapping and visualisations have

been produced to aid the assessment of these developments within EIA and

supplementary information provided for PLI. This visual material has been

useful in informing the sensitivity assessment undertaken for this study and

particularly in considering potential cumulative landscape and visual effects.

Having reviewed this material we considered that the visualisations produced

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within the Kelburn Wind Farm Supplementary Environmental Information

(SEI) report (2008) are the most useful, being the most up to date in terms of

current proposals and clearly produced. A limited selection of visualisations

from the Kelburn Wind Farm SEI has been reproduced to illustrate the key

landscape and visual issues highlighted in the capacity study. Although the

Leapmoor proposal has been withdrawn and the Waterhead Moor proposal

altered since the time of survey, a number of key sensitivity issues are

highlighted through analysis of the general location of these developments

and it therefore remains valid to consider them as theoretical case studies

within the cumulative assessment.

Assessment of landscape sensitivity

2.19 The assessment uses landscape character areas as a basis for the

landscape sensitivity assessment and makes judgements of the sensitivity of

each character area to wind energy development by assessing potential

effects on key characteristics sensitive to such development (in its various

forms). The method separates out physical landscape qualities and

perceptual qualities associated with the experience of that landscape. It

therefore allows judgements on each criterion to be made explicit. The

assessment involved the following tasks:

Assessment of Sensitivity to Wind Energy Development

2.20 Field survey was undertaken by two professional landscape architects,

experienced in the assessment of both wind farm development and the

process of landscape character and capacity assessment, using a checklist

from key viewpoints to record sensitivity to the development typologies

against the following criteria:

� Landform and scale

Landscape pattern and foci

� Settlement and built features

Landscape context (effect on sensitivity from other landscape character

areas in view including assessment of wider landscape composition)

� Perceptual qualities associated with the landscape including the sense of

remoteness and naturalness likely to be experienced

2.21 In terms of assessing the potential effects of wind farm development on key

characteristics, judgements were generally made on turbine height first. The

potential effect of the number of turbines was then assessed by gauging the

geographical area that would be covered and considering how the ‘extent’ of

development would relate to scale, landform, settlement and landscape

pattern. The visualisations produced within the Environmental Statements for

proposed wind farm developments within the study area (which varied greatly

in the number of turbines, although less so in their height) were found to be

useful in informing the assessment.

2.22 The assessment of landscape sensitivity considers the degree and nature of

change on key characteristics, gauged through a combination of analytical

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survey, professional assessment and judgements. A five point rating scale

was used to judge sensitivity as follows:

Table 2: Definitions of Landscape Sensitivity Ratings

Low sensitivity Key characteristics of landscape are robust and able to

accommodate development without significant character

change; wind energy development relates to character.

Low – medium

sensitivity

Key characteristics of landscape are resilient and are able to

accommodate development in some situations without

significant character change. Many aspects of wind energy

development relate to landscape character.

Medium sensitivity Key characteristics of landscape are vulnerable but with some

ability to accommodate development in limited situations

without significant character change; wind energy

development relates to some aspects of landscape character.

Medium – high

sensitivity

Key characteristics of landscape are sensitive and

development can only be accommodated in very limited

situations without significant character change. Wind energy

development relates to only a few aspects of landscape

character and some significant landscape impacts are likely to

occur on key characteristics.

High sensitivity Key characteristics of landscape are fragile and are unable to

accommodate development without significant character

change. Wind energy development conflicts the majority of

the key aspects of landscape character and widespread

significant landscape impacts would arise.

Views and visibility analysis

2.23 The assessment of potential effects on views and visibility was based on

assessment work undertaken in the field, using relevant visualisations from

ES of proposed wind farms to demonstrate particular issues. This

assessment considers views and visibility both within landscape character

areas and from the wider study area to the character area. It involved an

appraisal of the following:

� How the landscape is experienced, whether from roads, footpaths within

settlements or from the sea

� Key views from within each character area, including a description of their

nature and composition and the wider context ie) views of focal features

outwith the character area

� Potential skyline effects and the landscape context in terms of considering

views of the character area located within North Ayrshire but seen from

the wider study area.

Potential visibility from individual properties was not considered in the

assessment.

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Landscape Designations

2.24 There are no internationally or nationally designated landscapes within the

part of North Ayrshire which forms the priority area considered in this capacity

study.

2.25 The Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park (CMRP) designation principally covers the

uplands of the study area, although part of the western coastal fringe and

lowland lochs east of the upland plateaux are also included within the park. A

Sensitive Landscape Character Area (SLCA) designation applies to the

CMRP area and also to the islands of Great and Little Cumbrae. SCLAs have

been defined through evaluation of the landscape types set out in the 1998

Ayrshire Landscape Character Assessment. The aim of the designation is to

ensure that the important qualities and characteristics of particularly sensitive

and highly valued landscapes are safeguarded.

2.26 A number of designed landscapes listed in the Inventory of Historic Gardens

and Designed Landscapes also lie within the study area. These include

Kelburn Castle, Mount Stuart on Bute and Castle Toward.

2.27 The capacity study has concentrated on landscape character and visual

amenity within the study area. In common with a number of similar landscape

capacity studies, it does not take account of landscape designations and the

policies associated with them as a separate sensitivity criterion in the

assessment process. This is because the physical and visual capacity of a

landscape to accommodate wind farm development is not affected by

whether it is designated or not. The inherent characteristics of a landscape,

such as its scale or the degree of complexity of landform and land cover, will

influence sensitivity to wind energy development. A small scale, farmed and

settled river valley, for example, will be particularly sensitive to large scale

turbines while some larger scale and more open upland landscapes may be

better able to accommodate similar development. Landscape designations

within the study area include both these types of landscape and existing wind

farm development is also already located within part of the designated upland

area.

2.28 The Development Plan policies associated with the CMRP and SLCAs do not

preclude development but rather aim to protect landscape character and

visual amenity from types of development that may be damaging to the

intrinsic landscape qualities of these areas. Wind farm development is most

likely to be able to be accommodated in those designated areas where, as

elsewhere, landscape character and visual amenity is not significantly

adversely affected. This capacity study provides a more detailed appraisal of

how wind farm development may affect landscape character and visual

amenity as not all designated landscapes would be equally and consistently

affected by wind farm development as the landscape character and visual

amenity associated with each is very different.

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2.29 It is also considered that the value and policy implications associated with

landscape designations can also be applied in a more transparent manner as

an exercise separate from the landscape capacity assessment.

Cumulative landscape and visual effects

2.30 The method for assessment is based on the SNH Guidance Note on the

Cumulative Effects of Windfarms (Version 2, 2005), supplemented by findings

from our own experience and research on this subject.

2.31 The existing wind farm developments at Ardrossan and Wardlaw Wood and

the consented, but not yet constructed, wind farm of Kelburn were taken into

account in the assessment as part of the baseline landscape and visual

character. Consideration was also given to existing wind farm development

located in other local authority areas but visible from parts of North Ayrshire.

2.32 The assessment considered the following potential cumulative landscape and

visual effects:

� Multiple windfarm development on existing landscape character including

consideration of spatial arrangement, size of development and turbine

layout and the potential effects on the physical and perceptual qualities of

each landscape character area.

� The sense of scale, distance and existing focal points in the landscape.

� The skyline, where the prominence and proportion of development can

affect the nature of views and landscape character.

� Multiple windfarm developments seen from a single fixed viewpoint and

sequentially when travelling through a landscape.

2.33 Field survey was undertaken to consider cumulative landscape and visual

issues within landscape character areas and the wider study area and to

identify potential effects from key viewpoints and transport routes. Cumulative

effects were also considered as part of the landscape sensitivity and views

and visibility assessment within some character areas, as the potential effects

of additional windfarm development were assessed within a context where

existing windfarm or large scale industrial development was already present.

2.34 Site selection and the scale of development proposed are currently largely

developer-led and influenced by a range of factors including economic,

technical and environmental. While the possible definition of potential

development scenarios as a means of assessing cumulative effects was

considered, it was concluded that the wind farm developments currently

proposed within the study area gave a variety of scale (numbers of turbines

ranging from 6 to 44) and locations spread throughout the upland area to

enable identification of landscape and visual issues associated with a range

of development combinations. Our assessment of cumulative effects

therefore principally focussed on review of current wind farm proposals.

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Wider Study Area Boundary

Reproduced from the Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationary Office c Crown copyright. Licence No.100044410

0 2 4 6 8 10 km

North Ayrshire Landscape

and Visual Sensitivity

to Windfarm Development

Phase 1 Study

The Study Area

Fig No: 1


1

2

3

D

Existing and Consented

Windfarms

Ardrossan

Wardlaw Wood

Kelburn

1

2

3

4

5

C

Proposed Windfarms

Wings Law

Millour Hill

Kaim Hill

Waterhead Moor

Leapmoor

5

3

1

3

4

2

2

1

Reproduced from the Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationary Office c Crown copyright. Licence No.100044410

Study area boundary

Principal Assessment Viewpoints

Example Visualisation

A Irvine Beach (fig 5)

B A737 Highfield (fig 6)

C Lion Rock, Great Cumbrae (fig 7)

D

Kilchattan Bay, Bute (fig 8)

A

B

0 1 2 3 4 5 km

North Ayrshire Landscape

and Visual Sensitivity

to Windfarm Development

Phase 1 Study

Survey Information

Fig No: 2


3. Introduction to the Sensitivity Assessment

Ayrshire and Clyde Valley Wind farm Landscape Capacity Study

3.1 The LUC capacity study has been undertaken at a strategic level and covers

a large area. The study aims were to define landscapes that are most

sensitive to wind farm developments and should be conserved and

landscapes that are less sensitive which could be considered as potential

areas for wind farm development. The study also considered likely cumulative

effects of the level of development that might be required to meet renewable

energy targets for 2020.

3.2 The LUC capacity study considers the sensitivity of landscape character

types, based on the broad landscape character types described in the

published SNH landscape character assessments, to wind energy

development. Landscape character sensitivity has been assessed through

consideration of the effect of wind farm development on key characteristics

such as the degree of complexity of landform and land-cover patterns and on

settlement. Landscape value is also assessed and this takes account of the

way a landscape is perceived and valued and involved consideration of

factors such as rarity, remoteness and wild land qualities as well as the

presence of designations, cultural associations and amenity and recreation

value.

3.3 The sensitivities judged for the character areas located within the study area

were as follows:

Table 3: Combined sensitivity of character types within LUC capacity study

Landscape character type Landscape

character

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sensitivity

Landscape

Value

Rugged Moorland Hills and Valleys 3 2 5

Raised Beach 3 2 5

Broad Valley Lowland 2 1 3

Rugged Upland Farmland 2 2 4

Intimate Pastoral Valley 2 2 4

Combined

score

3.4 The maximum score for landscape character sensitivity or landscape value is

3 with this considered as being of the greatest sensitivity. There is no

indication in the study as to whether any specific wind farm development

typologies were considered in the sensitivity assessment, although it is

assumed that commercial scale developments principally formed the basis for

the conclusions reached. The maximum combined sensitivity score for

landscape character and value is 6. A score of 5 therefore indicates a fairly

high combined score for sensitivity, as indicated in Figure 4.1 of the LUC

capacity study.


3.5 Visual sensitivity was calculated using a combination of digital modelling of

wind farm development from sample locations to appraise the extent of

visibility and population numbers. Visual effects beyond 5km were not

considered in the study. The study also considers cumulative landscape and

visual effects that might arise from multiple developments using a series of

sample development scenarios located where individual landscape and visual

sensitivity scores are low. The study does not make recommendations as to

what might be considered an acceptable level of wind farm development

within this broad study area.

Review of Landscape Character

Existing landscape character assessments

3.6 A review was undertaken of the Ayrshire Landscape Character Assessment

and the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Landscape Character Assessment (LUC

1998) published by SNH. Descriptions of landscape character areas outlined

in these studies were compared with the key characteristics identified as

being potentially sensitive to wind farm development and verified during field

survey.

3.7 A detailed landscape character assessment undertaken for the Clyde

Muirshiel Regional Park by Cobham Resource Consultants in 1994 was also

reviewed and informed our sub-division of character units within the core

upland area.

Revisions to Landscape Character Areas

3.8 In the context of this landscape capacity study a number of changes have

been made in the classification of landscape character defined in the Ayrshire

Landscape Character Assessment as follows:

� The reclassification of the hill fringes lying between Lochwinnoch and

Kilbirnie within the ‘Broad Valley Lowland’ character area because of their

distinct rolling landform, diverse landcover pattern of small woodlands

and hedgerows and intimate scale. This new character area has been

named the ‘Rolling Hill Fringes’.

� Sub-division of the ‘Rugged Moorland’ character type into five distinct

areas; the ‘Loch Thom area’, ‘Ducal Moor’, the ‘Upland Core’, ‘Blaeloch

and the Crosbie Hills’ and ‘Haupland Muir’, by virtue of distinct differences

in the character of landform, landcover and degree of development

between these areas. Further description of these distinguishing

characteristics is set out in the sensitivity assessment which follows.

3.9 Figure 3 shows the broad landscape character types set out in the published

landscape character assessments while Figure 4 shows the reclassified more

16


detailed landscape character areas outlined above and thereafter used as the

basis of the sensitivity assessment in this study.

Landscape and Visual Sensitivity Assessment

3.10 Section 4 of the report which follows, assesses the landscape and visual

sensitivity of each landscape character area. The assessment outlined in

these sections should be read with reference to Figure 4 showing the location

of landscape character areas within the study area.

3.11 Within each section, an introduction to each character area is given and key

landscape characteristics are described. The assessment of landscape and

visual issues relating to each character area is organised to give a brief

description of key characteristics against which sensitivity to wind farm

development is assessed with an associated sensitivity rating applied. The

development scenarios considered in the assessment are:

1. Large scale wind farm development (multiple turbines 100m-140m high)

2. Medium scale wind farm development (multiple turbines 70-100m high)

3. ‘Community’ scale wind farm development (single and multiple turbines

30-70m high)

4. Small scale wind farm development (single and multiple turbines 15-30m

high)

5. Extensions to existing wind farms

6. Single turbine development over 70m high

3.12 For brevity, development scenarios are referenced by the number (1-6) set

against each typology in the assessment. It should be stressed that while the

development typologies above are described as being small/medium/large,

these terms are only used in relation to the height and number of respective

turbines in the context of current commercial windfarm proposals in Scotland.

3.13 Each character area is given an overall landscape and visual sensitivity

rating. A statement on capacity for wind farm development within each

character area is then outlined and guidance is given on location and design

for wind farm development within character areas where there is considered

to be some capacity. Where existing wind farm development is present within

a character area, this is considered as part of the baseline and potential

cumulative landscape and visual issues are therefore addressed in the

assessment. Cumulative landscape and visual issues are also considered as

a whole for the study area in section 5 of the report.

17


Raised Beach Coast

Intimate Pastoral Valley

Rugged Moorland

Rugged Upland Farmland

Broad Valley Lowland

Urban

Taken from the Ayrshire Landscape Assessment and Glasgow and Clyde Valley Landscape Assessment published by SNH

Reproduced from the Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationary Office c Crown copyright. Licence No.100044410

0 1 2 3 4 5 km

North Ayrshire Landscape

and Visual Sensitivity

to Windfarm Development

Phase 1 Study

Broad Landscape Character Types

Fig No: 3


1

2

3

4

5

Raised Beach Coast Rugged Upland Farmland*

Urban North Ayrshire Council boundary

Intimate Pastoral Valley

Rugged Moorland

Loch Thom Area

Duchal Moor

Upland Core

Blaeloch and the Crosbie Hills

Haupland Muir

1

Broad Valley Lowland

Rolling Hill Slopes

*This area has not been considered in the study as it lies wholly outwith North Ayrshire and the upland area of the CMRP

5

4

1

3

2

Reproduced from the Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationary Office c Crown copyright. Licence No.100044410

1

0 1 2 3 4 5 km

North Ayrshire Landscape

and Visual Sensitivity

to Windfarm Development

Phase 1 Study

Detailed Landscape Character Sub-divisions

Fig No: 4


4. Sensitivity Assessment

Loch Thom Area

Description

4.1 This character area comprises a broad basin surrounded and contained by

low, rounded hills generally below 300m height although rising to the south to

Creuch Hill (441m). The indented reservoir of Loch Thom and more even

Gryfe Reservoir dominate this basin and accentuate the light and open

expansiveness commonly experienced in this upland landscape. The deeply

incised valleys of the Kelly Burn and the Kip Water cut into the western rim of

hills. Smaller reservoirs occupy dips within the undulating landform and built

infrastructure associated with water management is evident and includes

dams and water treatment works. Coniferous forestry is situated on hill

slopes; this generally poorly designed with angular margins. Narrow public

roads wind up into these uplands and around Loch Thom from Greenock and

Inverkip. Dual high voltage transmission lines cross this upland landscape

from the Inverkip Power Station, diverging to the south of Creuch Hill. Some

industrial heritage features are present in this landscape and include the Kelly

Cut and Greenock Cut 19 th century aqueducts. The top of the chimney of the

Inverkip power station is visible to the west and transmission masts are

present on the summits of northern hills.

4.2 This landscape forms a focus for recreational use with fishing and walking

along the attractive footpaths of the Greenock and Kelly Cuts popular

acitivities. The Cornalees Bridge Centre of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park

(CMRP) is located close to Loch Thom.

Landscape sensitivity

4.3 Large scale wind farm development (1) would dominate the horizontal and

vertical scale of this landscape, which although open and expansive in

character is not geographically extensive. Large and medium scale wind farm

development (1+2) would affect the containment provided by relatively low

hills around this basin landscape and compete with the focus of Loch Thom.

Smaller developments (3, 4+6) would have less of an effect in this respect,

being less dominant in scale in relation to other features. However, all

development typologies would add to the visual complexity of tall vertical

masts, chimney and transmission lines already evident in this landscape and

larger typologies in particular would significantly affect the underlying

simplicity and openness of this landscape. High sensitivity

Perceptual qualities

4.4 Access to this area from the settled coastal fringes is along narrow roads that

suddenly arrive from steep, contained valleys into the open, light and

expansive basin of Loch Thom and the Gryfe Reservoir. Low, gently

18


undulating hills around the moorland and reservoirs provide sufficient

containment to give an impression of seclusion and peacefulness despite the

proximity of urban areas. Although the sense of ‘wildness’ is not as

pronounced as within the higher, more remote upland core to the south, and

some detractive elements are present, this is a relatively well-visited part of

the CMRP offering a number of recreational facilities and valuable in

providing an experience of an upland landscape close to urban centres. The

sounds of moorland birds such as skylark and curlew contribute to the sense

of naturalness and emphasise the upland character. All development

typologies would diminish the more naturalistic qualities of this landscape and

affect its value although larger scale development (1, 2+3) would be likely to

have more significant effects. Medium to high sensitivity

Views and visibility

4.5 There are striking views to the west over the islands and Firth of Clyde and to

the mountains of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to the north

from minor roads, footpaths and popularly walked summits within this

elevated plateau-like area. There would be close views of all development

typologies from roads, footpaths and reservoirs which are easily accessible

‘honey pot’ attractions within the CMRP and some intrusion may occur on

views out from this area. Large scale wind farm development (1,2+6) and

possibly also the higher band of turbines of (3), sited within adjacent

character areas would also be highly visible and would adversely affect the

containment provided by the hills which surround the basins of Loch Thom

and the Gryfe Reservoir. High sensitivity

Overall sensitivity

4.6 While the simple landform and absence of strong pattern in this landscape

could aid the integration of wind farm development, all typologies would

exacerbate the clutter of infrastructure which is already a detractive

component of this landscape. Wind farm development located both within this

character area and in adjacent character areas such as the ‘Upland Core’ and

more elevated parts of ‘Ducal Moor’ would adversely affect the characteristic

open expansiveness of this landscape and further diminish the sense of

naturalness which is especially valuable because of the close proximity of this

character area to urban centres. High overall sensitivity

19


Duchal Moor

Description

4.7 This character area has a simple, gently undulating landform comprising long

slopes which gradually rise from fringing upland farmland in the north-east of

the CMRP to the broad boggy plateau of Duchal Moor. This area is partially

contained by an arc of higher hills including Creuch Hill, North Burnt Hill and

Queenside Hill. A number of burns cut into the long grassy and patchy

heather-clad hill slopes and small lochans pattern the moor. High voltage

transmission lines are aligned either side of the moor and a disused narrow

gauge railway is evident, although masked by vegetation in places. Long

tracks provide access from the Calder valley and from the isolated farms

which sit at the transition between this upland plateau area and the more

managed ‘Rugged Upland Farmland’ of the south-western slopes of the Gryfe

Valley.

Landscape sensitivity

4.8 While larger turbine typologies (1+2) could relate to the simple landform and

land cover pattern of the upper hill slopes and plateau of Duchal Moor,

development of over 15 turbines (1+2) would dominate the scale of this

landscape however, which although open and expansive in character is not

geographically extensive. Single turbines (6) would appear visually dislocated

and ‘trivial’ within the large horizontal scale and generally open character of

this upland area. Large and medium scale wind farm development (1+2)

would however affect the containment provided by higher hills which arc

around Duchal Moor and, dependant on precise siting, could exacerbate the

clutter of high voltage power lines. Smaller developments (3, 4+6) sited on

lower hill slopes on the fringes of the upland area with the ‘Rugged Upland

Farmland’ landscape character type (located wholly outside North Ayrshire)

would have less of an effect in this respect. This scale of development could

relate to the broad pattern of angular shelterbelts and sparse settlement in

these hill fringes. Medium sensitivity

Perceptual qualities

4.9 While the presence of transmission lines and, to some extent, also access

and former rail tracks, reduce the sense of ‘wildness’ experienced in this area,

the open expanse of heather and grass moorland and the sounds of birds

contribute to the sense of naturalness experienced within this upland

landscape. This area lies within the CMRP although it is probably less

frequented than other more readily accessible areas. All development

typologies would diminish the more naturalistic qualities of this landscape.

Medium to high sensitivity

20


Views and visibility

4.10 This area is not visible from minor upland roads and from many of the more

popular viewpoints within the CMRP although walkers accessing smaller hills

within the area, many of which are marked by trig points, and the peripheral

higher hills such as North Burnt Hill, will have close views. Large development

typologies sited on more elevated western areas could impact on views from

the adjacent upland character areas of ‘Loch Thom’ and ‘The Upland Core’.

Smaller development typologies (3+4), and possibly also the lower end of the

medium scale typology band (2), could be sited to have limited visibility from

the west and south-east and from minor roads within the upland area due to

the containment provided by higher ground. All typologies would be likely to

be visible from roads and settlement to the north-east however, with views

from Kilmacolm and the B788 likely to be particularly affected. Medium to

high sensitivity

Overall sensitivity

4.11 While the subtle landform and scale of this landscape and its partial

containment by higher ground would offer some potential for development,

this would need to be carefully sited, and limited in vertical and horizontal

scale, so as to minimise the visual domination of the moor and reduce effects

on adjoining highly sensitive upland landscape character areas (the ‘Loch

Thom area and ‘Upland Core’). There is scope to locate smaller development

typologies (3+4) within the transitional landscapes of the lower hill slopes

between the upland moorland areas and more intensive, semi-enclosed

farmland of the ‘Rugged Upland Farmland’ character type, where landscape

pattern is simple and the landscape of a sufficiently large scale to relate to

wind farm development. Smaller typologies would be more appropriate than

larger typologies in these transitional areas (3, 4) as these would better relate

to the scale of isolated farms and the broad pattern of shelterbelts. There

would be views of development from nearby hill summits and from roads and

settlements to the north-east. Limited clusters of perhaps between 3 and 7

turbines are to be preferred to a number of dispersed single turbines in this

area so as to avoid accentuating the already fragmented character of

geometric shelterbelts and infrastructure characteristic of this area although

smaller (4) single turbines closely associated with farm buildings could be

accommodated. Medium to high overall sensitivity

21


The Upland Core

Description

4.12 This character area comprises the higher hills at the core of the uplands of

the CMRP. It also forms the most remote part of the upland area with no

roads and few tracks. Hills are generally more defined than elsewhere in the

upland area with distinct domed summits, occasionally ringed by a faint

tracing of crags and scree. The Hill of Stake and Misty Law are over 500m

high; this latter peak forming a particularly distinctive landmark in wider views

of the uplands from the east. A cluster of knolly peaks, centred on Irish Law

(484m), lie in the southern part of this character area and also feature on the

skyline in views from the west. Steep-sided narrow valleys cut into hill slopes

and some of these are dramatically rocky in places. Small lochans occur

within areas of slacker ground. Grass moorland is the predominant landcover

and the absence of field enclosures contributes to the simplicity and

openness of this landscape of open, sweeping summits and softly rolling

ridges. Some coniferous forestry is located on the eastern hill fringes and

there are also remnant policies at Muirshiel within the Calder valley.

Landscape Sensitivity

4.13 While the larger turbines of typologies (1+2) and the upper height band of (3)

could relate to the scale of this landscape, they would dominate and detract

from the more distinctive hills characteristic of this area. This area is also not

geographically extensive and large numbers of turbines would significantly

diminish the open expansiveness of the landscape. Although smaller

typologies would have less of an effect on landform and scale, all

development typologies would conflict with the simple, open and uncluttered

character and significantly diminish the integrity of this upland area. This

landscape forms a backdrop to the intimately scaled ‘Rolling Hill Fringes’ to

the east, contributing to the rich wider landscape composition between the

uplands and settled hill fringes. Wind farm development would dominate the

scale of these adjoining hill fringes and detract from the simple backdrop

provided by the hills. Wind farm development could also impact on the

containment of the adjacent ‘Loch Thom’ area, adversely affecting landscape

character. High sensitivity

Perceptual qualities and values

4.14 All development typologies would introduce built development into the more

intact core area of these uplands and would significantly affect the sense of

seclusion and wildness which is commonly experienced when walking within

this relatively unmodified core area of the CMRP. High sensitivity

Views and visibility

4.15 Views from this area are extensive and notably striking to the west and southwest

over the Firth of Clyde and focussing on the islands of Cumbrae, Bute

and Arran. A number of hills are popularly accessed by walkers including

22


Misty Law and Irish Law and these are also highly visible from settlement,

roads and footpaths in the lowland areas, particularly to the east. The steep

scarp-like, often wooded slopes and rounded tops of the western most hills

form a backdrop to the densely settled coastal fringe seen in close proximity

from settlements such as Fairlie and Largs and from sea fronts, marinas,

jetties and roads. The absence of roads and tracks within these uplands limits

views into the interior of this character area although glimpsed views are

possible from the A760. Close views occur from the farmed rolling hill slopes

to the east between Kilbirnie and Lochwinnoch, where this landscape forms a

backdrop to this diverse small scale landscape. Larger typologies (1+2) sited

on the eastern and western periphery of this character area would be highly

visible from the settled lowlands to the east and the Firth of Clyde and islands

to the west, as is illustrated in Figures 7 and 8. Wind farm development sited

in this area may also impact on views from the adjacent ‘Loch Thom’

character area which is one of the most popular areas of the CMRP. High

sensitivity

Overall sensitivity

4.16 This character area forms a higher core of generally more distinct hills,

presently unaffected by built development. The peripheral hills of the upland

core are important in providing a presently uncluttered backdrop to the settled

‘Raised Beach Coast’ to the west and ‘Rolling Hill Fringes’ to the east. The

more distinct hills at the core of this landscape are appreciated in views from

the Firth of Clyde and islands and from the eastern lowlands of North

Ayrshire. All development typologies would significantly affect the integrity of

this undeveloped core of hills and the sense of seclusion and wildness which

is experienced within this area. They could also significantly impact on the

landscape character and on views from the ‘Loch Thom’ area. There would

be cumulative landscape and visual effects associated with the spread of tall

built features (pylons, masts, industrial chimneys and turbines) into this intact

core of the uplands. These cumulative effects are considered in more detail in

section 5 of the report. High overall sensitivity

23


The Blaeloch and Crosbie Hills area

Description

4.17 There is a strong north-west/south-east grain to the landform of this character

area evident in the pattern of valleys and hill ranges, such as the Crosbie Hills

with their distinctive linear ‘wave’ pattern of peaks, and the upland plateau of

more subtly rounded summits between the valley accommodating the

Muirhead/Camphill Reservoirs and the Caaf valley. Kaim Hill (387m) forms a

distinct hill, particularly when seen from the west where its steep slopes back

the coastal settlement of Fairlie. This character area is bounded by the A760

to the north and the B781 to the south. A narrow road provides an elevated

route within these uplands, aligned close to the naturalistic indented and

scrub-fringed Caaf Reservoir which sits at the foot of the Crosbie Hills, before

steeply descending to the coastal fringe. Angular forestry plantations, access

tracks, transmission lines and the Wardlaw Wood wind farm (6 turbines,

125m high) are located on the lower eastern hills of this area. The consented

Kelburn wind farm of 14, 100m high turbines would extend wind farm

development along a broad upland ridge north-east of Knockendon Reservoir.

Landscape sensitivity

4.18 All development typologies, if sited within or in close proximity to the Crosbie

Hills, would significantly affect their distinctive landform and the role they play

in separating and partially containing the existing wind farm developments of

Wardlaw Wood/Kelburn and the Ardrossan wind farm, which is sited within

the adjacent ‘Haupland Muir’ landscape character area. The landscape

setting provided to the ‘Raised Beach Coast’ by the steep slopes and rounded

hill tops of the western most hills of this character area, the highest of these

being Kaim Hill, would also be adversely affected by all typologies of wind

farm development. The ridge between Blaeloch Hill and Cocklaw provides a

rim of slightly higher ground on the northern edge of this character area and

these peripheral hills are also important in providing a degree of containment

to the existing wind farm developments of Wardlaw and Kelburn.

4.19 All development typologies located within the lower Caaf valley would

dominate the intimate scale and detract from the diverse character of the

Caaf Reservoir. Smaller and single typologies (3, 4+6) sited anywhere within

this character area would additionally unfavourably contrast with the scale of

existing turbines.

4.20 The existing Wardlaw wind farm is sited at the eastern end of a gently

undulating upland area which appears as a broad ridge when viewed from

Kaim Hill and from the A760. The consented Kelburn Wind farm which is

located on this ‘ridge’ would emphasise the association of turbines with a

particular landform feature and would appear as a western extension to the

constructed Wardlaw Wood development. A small extension (5) to the

24


existing Wardlaw Wood wind farm could potentially be accommodated on the

less sensitive lower eastern uplands which are already characterised by

turbine development and forestry. Medium to high sensitivity

Perceptual qualities

4.20 The presence of existing wind farm development (Wardlaw Wood and

Kelburn), transmission lines, hill tracks and reservoirs reduces the perception

of wildness and naturalness in this area. Additional wind farm development

forming an extension to the existing Wardlaw Wood wind farm (5) would be

unlikely to have a noticeable effect on the perceptual qualities associated with

this landscape character area. The location and increased elevation of Kaim

Hill on the western periphery of this upland area provides an association with

the wider landscape of the Firth of Clyde and islands. Wind farm development

which encroached on the openness of Kaim hill would adversely affect the

experience of walking in this area and diminish this association. Medium

sensitivity

Views and visibility

4.21 This is not an extensive upland area and larger typologies (1+2) would be

visible from the settled lowlands to the east and from the Firth of Clyde and

islands to the west, although they would be seen in the context of existing

wind farm development which reduces sensitivity. Developments sited on the

western periphery of this character area would have a potentially far more

significant effect in this respect and would also impact on views from the

settled ‘Raised Beach Coast’ character area where the existing wind farm of

Wardlaw Wood and consented wind farm of Kelburn are not widely visible at

present. (This is demonstrated by Figure 7 which shows the relative

prominence of the Kaim Hill wind farm proposal). Windfarm development

located on the Crosbie Hills would be highly visible from the B781 and would

breach the containment and separation they offer to existing windfarms.

Similarly, turbines located on the slightly higher ridge of ground on the

northern periphery of this character area between Cocklaw and Blaeloch Hill

would dominate views from the A760 in the Muirhead and Camphill Reservoir

area. The consented Kelburn windfarm will be partially visible from the A760

development although the visual dominance of turbines will be restricted by

views of only two turbine tips throughout much of this valley. Medium to high

sensitivity

Overall sensitivity

4.22 The western peripheral hills, of which Kaim Hill is the most prominent, play a

key role in providing the immediate backdrop and setting to the settled

‘Raised Beach Coast’. The Crosbie Hills to the south are also important in

separating and partially containing existing wind farm developments as is the

slightly higher rim of ground between Cocklaw and Blaeloch Hill to the north.

There is a need to retain the open and undeveloped character of these hills in

order to protect adjacent character areas and views and to avoid significant

25


cumulative landscape and visual impacts that would be associated with

further development within this character area. Only a very small extension

(5) to existing wind farm development could be accommodated in this

character area on the lower eastern and more fragmented uplands of this

area, avoiding the key hills that are strategically important in containing and

separating development and limiting visual intrusion and cumulative effects.

Development should clearly relate to the existing Wardlaw Wood wind farm

with the design and layout of turbines requiring careful consideration in order

to achieve a unified whole. Medium to High sensitivity

26


Haupland Muir

Description

4.23 This small area of low knolly hills, fringed by rolling pastures, forms a coastal

edge and a backdrop to the settlements of Ardrossan, Saltcoats and West

Kilbride. The area is visually dominated by the existing Ardrossan windfarm

(12 turbines x 100m high) and the wind farm is seen in a semi-urban context

from the south. The steep-sided Knockewart Hills form a containing edge to

the Ardrossan wind farm to the north where the B781 weaves through the

hills between Dalry and West Kilbride. Knockewart Hill (242m) has a

telecommunications mast located on its summit. Transmission lines cross the

area dominating the scale of farmland and a small reservoir is located at the

foot of the hills along the B780. An extension of 3 additional turbines to the

Ardrossan wind farm has been recently constructed.

Landscape sensitivity

4.24 Larger typologies (1+2) of over 10 turbines would be unlikely to be physically

accommodated within the small remaining undeveloped parts of this

character area. While smaller numbers of taller turbines (1+2) could

potentially be physically located in this area, they would be close to the

existing Ardrossan wind farm and would diminish the containment provided

by the higher ground of the Knockewart Hills and the relatively uncluttered

south-western hill slopes which provide a backdrop and separation to the

settlements of West Kilbride and Ardrossan. Extensions to existing wind farm

development (5) would also be limited by similar constraints. Smaller

development typologies (3+4), perhaps located on lower slopes within the

more intensively farmed areas surrounding the upland core, would contrast

with the 100m high turbines of the existing Ardrossan development and

exacerbate the visual confusion of disparate elements including transmission

lines, masts and turbines. High sensitivity

Perceptual qualities and values

4.25 This character area is close to urban centres and communications and there

is little sense of remoteness or naturalness. The northern part of this

character area only lies within the CMRP. Low sensitivity

Views and visibility

4.26 While the existing Ardrossan wind farm is widely visible from the Firth of

Clyde and islands and from the settled lowlands to the south and east, in

close views it is partially contained by the Knockewart Hills. All development

typologies sited on these hills would be highly visible from the B781 and

would potentially disrupt the visual balance and cohesiveness of the existing

Ardrossan wind farm. The consented extensions to existing wind farm

development (5) would be unlikely to significantly affect views provided this

did not disrupt the integrity of the existing turbine layout and its association

with the slightly lower rolling moorland which is edged by higher ground.

27


Extensions (5) located on southern hill slopes would be close to settlements

and would be likely to increase visual impact. High sensitivity

Overall sensitivity

4.27 This is a very small geographic area and there is no scope for separate wind

farm developments to be accommodated due to the close proximity of the

existing Ardrossan wind farm and the cumulative impacts that would occur

between developments of potentially different scales. The need to retain the

setting and containment provided by the Knockewart Hills to the existing

Ardrossan wind farm and to conserve the relatively uncluttered character of

south-west facing hill slopes abutting the coast also severely limits capacity

for development. Capacity is also likely to have been reached with regard to

extensions to existing wind farm development (5) due to these constraints.

High overall sensitivity

28


Raised Beach Coast

Description

4.27 A narrow coastal strip of raised beach forms an abrupt transition between the

uplands and the outer Firth of Clyde. This character area broadens at

Argowan Point and at Hunsterston although in general the area is strongly

contained by the steep hill slopes of the uplands or, increasingly to the north,

by an intermediate small cliff edge against the raised beach which is often

accentuated by woodland. This area is well-settled and intensively farmed.

Designed landscapes are a key characteristic and particularly notable at

Kelburn and Ardgowan and also evident in the remnant wooded policies of

Hunterston. Broadleaved woodlands trace incised valleys cutting into the hills

and a distinct pattern of hedgerows and stone walls enclosing fields, together

with the wider seascape of the outer Firth of Clyde and islands, contribute to

the rich diversity of this landscape. Parts of the coastal edge are modified

with marinas at Largs and Inverkip, jetties and the extensive industrial works

at Hunterston extending into the Firth. A number of settlements are aligned

against the coast.

Landscape sensitivity

4.28 All larger development typologies (1, 2, 3 and 6) would conflict with the scale

of settlement and with the small scale and diverse landcover pattern of

wooded policies and farmland characteristic of much of this area. They

would also diminish the sense of containment and the prominence of steep

slopes which are important in providing a backdrop and landscape setting to

this narrow settled coastal fringe. Small typologies (4) could however be more

easily accommodated, particularly if associated with industry or with more

modified features such as marinas, depending on the scale of the local

landscape and settlement pattern. All development typologies sited on the

steep slopes of these backdrop hills would diminish their rugged and open

character which contrasts with the settled coastal edge. Wind farm

development could also accentuate the industrial character evident in parts of

this landscape and affect the balance of farmland to urban and developed

land. All typologies sited close to existing tall structures such as transmission

lines, chimneys and existing wind farm development at Ardrossan, could

increase visual complexity and clutter in this landscape. Medium to high

sensitivity

Perceptual qualities and values

4.29 While this character area is well settled and highly modified in places, it is

closely associated with the Firth of Clyde which is perceived as having a

natural character. Part of this character area lies within the CMRP. Medium

sensitivity

Views and visibility

4.30 The Firth and the islands of Bute, the Cumbraes and the Cowal peninsula

form the key focus of views from settlement and roads within this area due to

29


the containment provided by the uplands to the east. However, the steep

slopes and western most hills of the upland area are seen from open

stretches of the A78 and from promontories, coastal esplanades and

harbours within this character area and all development typologies would be

highly intrusive if sited in these areas. Views to this character area are largely

from the Firth and islands to the west. The tall chimney of Inverkip Power

station and the Ardrossan wind farm are key features in these views. All

development typologies sited on the flat coastal edge or on the steep hill

slopes at the transition with the uplands would be highly visible from within

the character area and in views from the west and could conflict with existing

tall structures if sited close-by. There would be cumulative effects with

existing and consented windfarm development in the adjacent uplands of the

CMRP. Medium to high sensitivity

Overall sensitivity

4.31 There is no scope to sensitively accommodate larger wind farm typologies

within this character area due to the conflict that would occur with the scale of

settlement, the diverse land cover pattern and the containment and setting

provided by the backdrop of hills. Cumulative impacts may arise where wind

farm development visually interacts with existing tall vertical structures such

as the Inverkip power station chimney and the Ardrossan wind farm, which

although located in an adjacent character area of low hills tapering down from

the uplands to the south, is a key component of wider views towards this area

from the west. There may be limited scope to site smaller typologies (4) close

to more modified coastal areas and marinas although it will be important to

conserve key views out from this character area to the Firth of Clyde and its

islands. Medium to high overall sensitivity

30


Intimate Pastoral Valley

Description

4.32 The Brisbane Glen cuts into the upland area to the north-east of Largs. Small

pastures occupy the narrow floor and rolling lower slopes of the glen in its

lower reaches. Fields are enclosed by dense hedgerows and a strong pattern

of small broadleaved woodlands, and mixed policy woodlands, contributes to

the diversity and intimate scale of this character area. The Glen becomes

less wooded and settled in its upper reaches and has a more upland

character with extensive semi-improved grazing enclosed by occasional

stone walls within the valley floor and grass moorland increasingly a feature

on valley sides. Although more open in character, the valley is still strongly

contained by steep hill slopes which are cut by deeply incised water courses.

A minor road is aligned through this valley from Largs to Greenock via Loch

Thom.

Landscape sensitivity

4.33 All development typologies would conflict with the intimate scale and diverse,

intricate landcover pattern of this character area. High sensitivity

Perceptual qualities and values

4.34 The strong containment of this valley can give a sense of seclusion

particularly within the less settled upper reaches. This character area also

has some naturalistic qualities derived from its well-wooded character and the

river. This area lies within the CMRP. High sensitivity

Views and visibility

4.35 While the containment of the valley would limit visibility of most development

typologies from other character areas, there would be close views from

houses and the minor road within the Glen. Medium to high sensitivity

Overall sensitivity

4.36 It is unlikely that wind farm development would be considered in this area due

to its inherent sheltered nature. Irrespective of the severe technical

constraints likely to be present, all development typologies would incur

significant adverse impacts on the intimate scale and rich diversity of this

valley. High sensitivity

31


Rolling Hill Fringes

Description

4.37 The lower hill slopes lying between the uplands of the Clyde Muirshiel

Regional Park and the broad, flat-bottomed valley between Kilbirnie and

Lochwinnoch have a highly scenic character. This area comprises a small

scale patchwork of rolling pastures enclosed by dense, intact hedgerows and

cut by narrow wooded valleys. Woodlands line valleys and ridgelines and

small copses shelter farmsteads. Minor roads, occasionally lined by mature

trees, wind through this area and provide access to traditional small farms

and cottages which contribute to the strongly rural character of the area.

These rolling farmed slopes are complemented by the simple backdrop

provided by the open uplands which together create a richly diverse wider

landscape composition.

Landscape sensitivity

4.38 All development typologies would dominate the intimate scale of these rolling

hill fringes and conflict with the strong pattern of small woodlands and

hedgerows and small scale buildings. Wind farm development, and

particularly larger typologies (1+2), sited at the transition with the uplands

would adversely affect the rich landscape composition which occurs between

this area and the open backdrop of hills by appearing to diminish the vertical

scale of steep slopes and adversely affecting their simple and open character.

Wind farm development sited within the eastern hills of the adjacent ‘Upland

Core’ character area would also impact on the intimate character of these

‘Rolling Hill Fringes’ and diminish the uncluttered backdrop and vertical scale

provided by the uplands. High sensitivity

Perceptual qualities

4.39 The containment provided by rolling landform and woodland can give a sense

of seclusion in parts of this character area. The area also has a strong rural

character derived from the presence of small pastures, largely intact hedges,

broadleaved woodlands and traditional buildings. This area lies within the

CMRP. Medium to high sensitivity

Views and visibility

4.40 There are extensive views of these hill fringes from roads and settlements

within the lowlands of North Ayrshire to the east and all development

typologies would be likely to be highly visible. Woodlands and the rolling

landform restrict views to some extent from within the character area itself

although it is a relatively well-settled area. High sensitivity

Overall sensitivity

4.41 All development typologies would be visible from populated areas to the east

and would conflict with the intimate scale and strongly rural qualities of this

character area. Wind farm development sited within the adjoining upland area

32


would have an adverse impact on the scenic wider landscape composition

that the simple, open backdrop of hills provides to this diverse farmed

landscape. High sensitivity

33


5. Cumulative Effects

Introduction

5.1 The consideration of potential cumulative effects of wind farm development

within the priority area has been informed by review of existing visualisations

and computer visibility mapping contained within the Environmental

Statements for a number of proposed wind farm developments within the

study area. Wind farm proposals considered in the assessment are listed in

Section 2.15, Table 1. The visualisations have been used to demonstrate key

sensitivities associated with the general location of wind farm developments

and although some proposals have been withdrawn or altered since the time

of survey, they have provided valuable ‘case study’ material for the

assessment of cumulative effects. Potential cumulative landscape and visual

issues have been principally identified on the analysis of key views to and

from the uplands which form the core of the study area.

Existing wind farm development

5.2 The existing wind farms of Ardrossan and Wardlaw Wood lie within the phase

one study area and form part of the baseline landscape and visual character.

The Kelburn wind farm has recently been consented and for the purposes of

this study, it is assumed that it has been constructed.

5.3 The Ardrossan wind farm comprises 12 turbines of 100m height to blade tip.

An extension of 3 further turbines to this wind farm has recently been

constructed. This wind farm is sited within an area of low hills against the

coast which lie between Ardrossan and West Kilbride. It has a relatively tightly

clustered layout and is partially contained by the Knockewart Hills to the north

and further separated from the Wardlaw Wood and Kelburn wind farms by the

Crosbie hills. In views from the west and south, this wind farm is visually

associated with the lower hills which taper down from the higher uplands to

the north. It is also visually associated with the more settled coastal edge, and

in views from Great Cumbrae, it is seen in the context of industrial

development at Hunterston. This wind farm is generally successful in its

location and design presenting a compact integrated grouping of turbines in

most views although more cluttered views occur to the north of West Kilbride

where turbines visually interact with transmission lines.

5.4 The Wardlaw wind farm comprises 6 turbines, measuring 125m height to

blade tip. This wind farm is sited at the eastern end of a gently undulating

upland area which appears as a broad ridge when viewed from Kaim Hill and

from the A760. It lies some 3km to the north-east of the Ardrossan wind farm.

Turbines are set out on a relatively widely spaced grid layout and in some key

views from the south-east this results in visual ‘stacking’ of turbines with

34


moving blades coalescing. The visual interaction of turbines with high voltage

transmission lines and poorly designed forestry also contributes to the

adverse visual impacts of this wind farm in these views. In views from the

west, this wind farm appears to be set well back from the coastal fringe

however and is clearly associated with the upland area with only 2 or 3

turbines visible within a slight dip to the left of Kaim Hill.

5.5 The Kelburn wind farm comprises 14 turbines of 100metres height to blade

tip. It would appear as an extension to the existing Wardlaw Wood wind farm

in many views as it extends along a broad ridge north-east of the Caaf valley.

This development would slightly extend visibility of turbines along the ‘Raised

Beach Coast’ and in views from the Firth of Clyde and islands to the west but

would still be fairly limited in terms of its spread seen on the skyline of the

uplands in these western views.

Potential cumulative landscape and visual effects

Views from the south

5.6 Views along the B780 and B781 to the west of Dalry and from Ardrossan

harbour were considered in our assessment. A visualisation from Irvine

Beach Park is reproduced from the Kelburn Supplementary Environmental

Information report in Figure 5 to illustrate cumulative impacts from the south.

5.7 The Ardrossan windfarm appears strongly associated with the settled coastal

fringe in views from the south. There are limited views of the development

from Ardrossan and Saltcoats although more distant views from the settled

coastal fringe to the south-east would be affected. Figure 5 shows an intense

pattern of spacing with the Kaim Hill and Wings Law wind farms occupying

distinct rounded hills and upland plateau areas defined by intervening valleys.

The consented Kelburn wind farm would consolidate the existing Wardlaw

Wood turbines but not significantly increase the spread of turbines visible on

the skyline of the uplands in this view. The proposed Wings Law wind farm

(and to a lesser extent the Waterhead Moor proposal) would have a extensive

spread however and if these wind farms and the Kaim hill proposal were also

developed there would be significant cumulative impacts as turbines would

occupy much of the skyline of the uplands which, although distant, provide a

backdrop to views.

Views from the east

5.8 The key visualisations reviewed include viewpoint 7 from the A737 in the

Millour Hill ES and from Beith Golf Course, viewpoint 8 in the Wings Law

windfarm ES. A visualisation from the A737 at Highfield is reproduced from

the Kelburn Supplementary Environmental Information report in Figure 6 to

illustrate cumulative impacts from the east.

35


5.9 The uplands which form the core of the study area provide an important

backdrop and focus in views from the broad settled slopes either side of the

Barr and Kilbirnie Lochs and the Garnock valley. Settlements such as Beith,

have open views to the uplands and they also feature in views from parts of

Dalry, Kilbirnie and Lochwinnoch, away from the visual shadow of steep hill

slopes. The full extent of the upland plateau of the CMRP can be appreciated

in views from the A737. Existing windfarm development at Ardrossan and

Wardlaw Wood is located to the south and is clearly seen on the skyline of

the uplands. The small knolly hills of Glenton and Gill Hills, forming part of the

Crosbie Hills are important in separating the existing Ardrossan and Wardlaw

Wood wind farms in these views. Transmission lines are visible on the skyline

at the northern and southern ends of the uplands. The central section of the

uplands to the north of the A760 is presently uncluttered by development and

appears higher with the more distinctive hills of Misty Law and the cluster of

peaks centred around Irish Law clearly discernable.

5.10 The consented Kelburn wind farm would appear as one contiguous

development with the existing Wardlaw Wood wind farm with turbines

occupying the full extent of the gently domed Braidland Hill. In a context

where the Kelburn and any possible small extension to the Wardlaw Wood

wind farm were constructed, the proposed Wings Law windfarm proposal

would substantially fill the remainder of the open skyline seen in these views.

The Wings Law windfarm would additionally extend development into the less

modified and higher central core of the uplands with its distinct hill summits

and would adversely affect the integrity of the backdrop and contrast this

upland core provides to the settled lowland landscapes. The cumulative

impacts of the Kelburn proposal and a possible small extension to the

Wardlaw Wood wind farm are reduced because of their association with the

existing Wardlaw Wood turbines and also because they continue the pattern

of wind farm development associated with the less pronounced and more

modified uplands seen to the south.

Views from the islands and Firth of Clyde to the west

5.11 Visualisations from The Lion Rock on Great Cumbrae and from Kilchattan

Bay on Bute have been reproduced from the Kelburn Supplementary

Environmental Information report in Figures 7 and 8 to illustrate cumulative

impacts from the west. Visualisations set out in the Inverkip (Leapmoor) wind

farm ES from Ascog, Bute (Viewpoint 18) were also reviewed.

5.12 The long gently undulating profile of the uplands of mainland North Ayrshire

are a consistent feature in views between Rothesay and Kerrycroy and also

from Kilchattan Bay on the east coast of Bute. The central section of these

uplands, lying between the A760 and Upper Skelmorlie, appear generally

higher with more distinct, although still subtly domed summits, and with steep

36


slopes rising above the settled coastal edge of North Ayrshire in views from

the west. They are also perceived as being intact and undeveloped with no

intrusion visible on the skyline in views from both Great Cumbrae and Bute.

The uplands taper at either end with a greater degree of enclosure pattern

characteristic as farmland occupies slacker hill slopes.

5.13 The existing Ardrossan wind farm is particularly prominent when seen from

Cumbrae and from Kilchattan (being largely screened from view by Great

Cumbrae from Ascog on Bute). In these views, this wind farm has a visual

association with farmland but also with the coastal fringe where industrial

development at Hunterston and settlement is a key feature. At the northern

end of this upland panorama, the chimney of Inverkip Power Station, at 213m

high, is a prominent feature on the coastal fringe. A dual set of transmission

lines are aligned from the power station across the upland area with towers

highly visible on the skyline in views from the west. There would be

cumulative landscape and visual effects between these existing tall features

and the proposed Inverkip wind farm in these views.

5.14 The Kaim Hill wind farm proposal (illustrated in Figure 7) would appear

perched on the edge of the scarp of the uplands and on a pronounced hill and

individual turbines would therefore be more visually prominent than those of

other existing, consented and proposed wind farm developments. It would

diminish the perceived vertical scale of the steep scarp above the settled

coastal edge and have a greater impact on this adjacent landscape. The

consented Kelburn wind farm, in contrast, is set back from the coastal edge

and therefore more associated with the upland landscape.

5.15 Figure 7 demonstrates the cumulative landscape and visual effects of the

existing/consented Ardrossan and Kelburn wind farms with the Kaim Hill,

Wings Law and Waterhead Moor proposals. In this view the substantial

spread of the Waterhead Moor proposal on the skyline would have a

significant impact and would contrast with the fairly tight groupings of turbines

associated with the Kelburn proposal and would also lack the association of

the Ardrossan wind farm with lower hill slopes at the far end of the upland

plateau, being located within the higher and more intact core of uplands.

5.16 Views from the more distant east coast of Bute, of which Figure 8 serves as

an example, reveal principally blade tips of the existing Wardlaw Wood, wind

farm and the Millour Hill proposal. A greater extent of the Kelburn wind farm is

also visible. The Kelburn, Wardlaw Wood and Millour Hill wind farms would

coalesce in this view and would be likely to be perceived as a single wind

farm and be widely separated from the Ardrossan wind farm (this separation

emphasised by the Crosbie Hills). Although the Kaim Hill proposal would also

be associated with this same grouping of developments in the southern

uplands of Clyde Muirshiel, turbines would be noticeably larger and more

visually prominent. If the Waterhead Moor and Wings Law proposals were to

37


e developed, there would only be very short sections of open skyline visible

between all the wind farms with the ‘string’ of turbines reflecting the linear

pattern of coastal development and thus diminishing the contrast, backdrop

and landscape setting provided by the presently predominantly open uplands.

Views from the ‘Raised Beach Coast’ character area

5.17 Views of existing wind farms are largely restricted from the ‘Raised Beach

Coast’ landscape character area although the Ardrossan wind farm is visible

from the West Kilbride area and there are views of both Wardlaw Wood and

Ardrossan from the Goldenberry Hill promontory near Hunterston.

5.18 Following review of cumulative ZTVs in a number of ES, it is concluded that

the Kaim Hill, Waterhead Moor and Inverkip proposals are likely to be visible

from a considerable extent of the ‘Raised Beach Coast’. A small number of

turbines of the consented Kelburn wind farm may also be visible from some

parts of this area. All these proposals and the existing Ardrossan and

Wardlaw Wood wind farms would be visible simultaneously and sequentially

from roads and settlements within the coastal fringe. However the

significance of the cumulative impacts will be dependant on the context of

views and landscape character and the prominence of the wind farm in view.

The Goldenberry Hill promontory will be most affected by simultaneous views

of part of the Kelburn and Millour Hill proposals seen together with the

existing Wardlaw Wood and Ardrossan wind farms (Millour Hill ES, Figures

8.26 and 8.29). This is not a particularly well-populated area and it is already

influenced by industrial development at Hunterston. The uplands are also less

pronounced when viewed from this area and the presence of existing wind

farm development further reduces sensitivity.

5.19 The proposed Kaim Hill wind farm would be highly visible from parts of the

‘Raised Beach Coast’ with views from open esplanades, marinas and

promontories likely to be most affected. While the Firth of Clyde and islands

form the key focus of views, multiple developments seen on the skyline would

be dominant and would adversely affect the setting that the hills provide to

this settled coastal fringe. This proposal may be simultaneously visible with

the Waterhead Moor proposal in the Skelmorlie and Wemyss Bay area while

both Kelburn and Kaim Hill may be visible from the open esplanades of Largs

and Fairlie, although the Kaim Hill turbines would be notably more prominent

in these views.

Views from within the uplands

5.20 Views from both roads and summits within the upland area were considered

in our assessment. These included the A760 which cuts through the uplands

between Kelburn and the junction with the B784 and from the minor roads

38


etween Dalry and Fairlie, Greenock/Loch Thom and Largs. The hill summits

of Misty Law and Kaim Hill were also visited.

5.21 The existing wind farms of Wardlaw Wood and Ardrossan are not visible

within the ‘Loch Thom’ character area although there are views of these

developments from the ‘Upland Core’ character area.

5.22 The Inverkip wind farm proposal (and any other proposal sited on the western

hill slopes of the CMRP) would have cumulative impacts with the existing tall

structures of the power station chimney and overhead transmission lines in

views from some popular walking routes, hill summits and the minor road within

the ‘Loch Thom’ character area. This proposal would also be seen

simultaneously with the Waterhead Moor and Wings Law proposals over an

extensive area of the uplands to the north of the A760.

5.23 The consented Kelburn wind farm would be theoretically visible from a small

part of the Loch Thom character area above Skelmorlie. The Millour Hill

proposal would not be visible from this area. Both these proposals would

increase the extent of wind farm development already visible (and seen

between 5km and 15km distance) from the ‘Upland Core’ character area. The

cumulative effects of multiple wind farm developments (Wings Law, Inverkip,

Waterhead Moor) which are sited in close proximity to each other within a

relatively limited upland area would be significant and be overwhelmingly

dominant to people walking within the hills of the ‘Upland Core’.

Conclusions

5.24 The location and pattern of existing and consented wind farm development

within the uplands of mainland North Ayrshire sets a baseline context against

which new development proposals should be judged. Consideration needs to

be given to the established association of existing/consented wind farms with

landscape character as well as the potential cumulative effects of additional

development on landscape character and on views. A potential landscape

strategy for sensitively locating additional wind farm development within the

phase one study area is explored further in section 6 which follows.

39


North Ayrshire Landscape

and Visual Sensitivity

to Windfarm Development

Cumulative visualisations from Irvine Beach Phase 1 Study

Fig No: 5


North Ayrshire Landscape

and Visual Sensitivity

to Windfarm Development

Cumulative visualisations from A737 at Highfield Phase 1 Study

Fig No: 6


North Ayrshire Landscape

and Visual Sensitivity

to Windfarm Development

Cumulative visualisations from the Lion Rock, Great Cumbrae Phase 1 Study

Fig No: 7


North Ayrshire Landscape

and Visual Sensitivity

to Windfarm Development

Cumulative visualisations from Kilchattan Bay, Bute Phase 1 Study

Fig No: 8


6. Conclusions on capacity

Summary of findings

6.1 The study has assessed the sensitivity of 8 detailed landscape character

areas within the Phase one study area to a range of different wind turbine

development typologies, using a number of key landscape and visual criteria

in the assessment. The findings of the sensitivity assessment are outlined in

the table below:

Table 4: Summary of sensitivity

Landscape character areas Sensitivity Capacity

Loch Thom area High None

The Upland Core High None

Duchal Moor Medium-High Limited

Blaeloch and Crosbie Hills Medium-High Limited

Haupland Muir High None

Raised Beach Coast Medium-High Limited

Intimate Pastoral Valley High None

Rolling Hill Fringes High None

6.2 There are two existing wind farm developments located within the study area

and therefore any assessment of capacity for additional development needs

to consider the location and pattern of these developments as part of the

baseline. Potential cumulative landscape and visual effects were considered

in the sensitivity assessment for individual character areas and also within the

wider study area where key views to and from the uplands formed the basis

of our appraisal.

6.3 None of the landscape character areas assessed were considered to have a

low or medium sensitivity to wind farm development. This reflects the

significant landscape and visual sensitivities of the phase one study area and

the presence of existing wind farm development which increases potential for

cumulative impacts to occur on landscape character and on views.

6.4 There was found to be limited capacity for a small extension to existing wind

farm development (5) within the ‘Blaeloch and Crosbie Hills’ landscape

character area. Development in this area would be subject to a number of

landscape and visual constraints, principally relating to the need to minimise

intrusion on the ‘Raised Beach Coast’ and the Firth of Clyde and islands to

the west and to retain the present separation and containment between

existing wind farm developments. There is scope for a very limited extension

to existing wind farm development in the less sensitive lower uplands in the

east of this character area where the existing wind farm of Wardlaw Wood is

already prominent in views from the settled lowlands of North Ayrshire.

40


6.5 There is some limited capacity for development within the Duchal Moor

landscape character area. In order to avoid intrusion on the adjacent

character areas of Loch Thom and the Upland Core, it is likely that only

smaller typologies (3+4) would be appropriate, providing these were located

on lower slopes at the transition with the ‘Rugged Upland Farmland’ character

area. Although views of wind farm development in this area would be likely to

be restricted by higher ground, there would be impacts on views from the

settled lowlands to the north-east and from nearby hill summits. This area lies

beyond the boundaries of North Ayrshire.

6.6 There was also found to be some limited capacity within the ‘Raised Beach

Coast’ but only for small development typologies (4) located within the more

modified parts of this character area. The need to avoid cumulative visual

impacts with other tall structures was highlighted in the sensitivity

assessment.

6.7 The ‘Loch Thom’, ‘Upland Core’, ‘Intimate Pastoral Valley’, Haupland Muir’

and ‘Rolling Hill Fringes’ landscape character areas were identified as having

no capacity for wind farm development. This was due to the high sensitivity of

the majority of key characteristics to all the development typologies

considered in the assessment or, in the case of ‘Haupland Muir’, because

capacity has already been reached due to the presence of existing wind farm

development and landscape and visual constraints associated with remaining

undeveloped land.

A spatial strategy for development

6.8 A strategy for directing future wind farm development to areas where

landscape and visual impacts would be less significant and avoiding areas of

high sensitivity is recommended below. Figures 9 and 10 illustrate key

constraints to wind farm development within the study area.

Avoid wind farm development within the remote and undeveloped core

of the uplands

6.9 Wind farm development should be avoided within the central, slightly higher

and open, undeveloped core of the uplands to conserve these qualities as a

contrast to the remainder of the upland area, which is more modified, and a

‘sanctuary’ for quiet recreation and the experience of wildness. This relatively

intact upland landscape of rugged moorland is rare in the context of North

Ayrshire and is valuable in terms of its proximity to centres of population. This

aim would also have the related advantages of retaining an intact skyline to

this central and higher core of more defined hills seen from the Firth and

islands to the west and from the lowlands of North Ayrshire to the east. It

would also conserve the scenic landscape setting these hills provide to

coastal settlement and the hill fringes to the east.

41


6.10 With regard to current wind farm proposals, both the Waterhead Moor and

Wings Law proposals would have significant adverse effects on the character

of this upland landscape and on the experiential qualities associated with it,

on views to and from within the popularly accessed peaks within the upland

core and cumulatively with existing and proposed wind farm developments

within the southern upland area. A detailed appraisal of landscape and visual

issues associated with the Wings Law proposal is set out in Appendix B.

Avoid wind farm development within and indirectly affecting the Loch

Thom area

6.11 Wind farm development should be avoided within the Loch Thom area but

also within adjacent character areas where it would impact on landscape

character and intrude on views from this popularly accessed area. The clutter

of infrastructure elements within this landscape is already a negative

characteristic and the introduction of further large scale vertical structures

would accentuate this and have significant impacts on the lightness and

openness experienced within this character area. This landscape requires

enhancement not further built development. Development sited within this

area may also impact on the adjacent ‘Upland Core’ landscape character

area. The majority of the Loch Thom area lies beyond the boundaries of North

Ayrshire.

6.12 The Inverkip, Waterhead Moor and Wings Law wind farm proposals would be

visible from this character area. The Inverkip proposal in particular would

have significant adverse landscape and visual impacts. There was insufficient

environmental information on the Waterhead Moor and Wings Law proposals

to enable us to draw conclusions as to the likely significance of effects on the

Loch Thom area.

Avoid visual intrusion on the settled coastal fringe

6.13 The upland core of the phase one study area is important in the contrast it

provides with the settled coastal fringes. The steep slopes and open hill tops

of the western ‘perimeter’ hills are important in providing the landscape

setting to settlements such as Largs and Fairlie and to designed landscapes

such as Kelburn.

6.14 Wind farms should be located to avoid intrusion on views to and from the

settled coastal fringe and impacts on landscape setting. The uncluttered

backdrop provided by the western uplands are valuable in providing a

contrast to the narrow, confined and highly patterned and settled character of

the coastal fringe and, together with the Firth of Clyde, contribute to the high

scenic quality of the wider landscape composition. Turbines would reduce this

42


simplicity and contrast and would be dominant features within this contained

landscape.

6.15 The proposed wind farm on Kaim Hill is an example of poor siting in this

respect, as is evident in the cumulative visualisations shown in Figures 7 and

8, where its location on the edge of the upland area increases visual

prominence in views from the Firth and islands to the west and is also likely to

impact on landscape character and views within the settled coastal fringe of

the ‘Raised Beach Coast’ character area. A detailed appraisal of the

landscape and visual effects of the Kaim Hill proposal is contained in

Appendix B. The Waterhead Moor proposal would also be likely to have

landscape and visual impacts on the settled coastal fringe although turbines

would be set back to some degree from the upland edge.

6.16 The need to avoid intrusion on the sensitive coastal edge would be a

constraint to significant additional development within the southern part of the

uplands. Kaim Hill, Whatside Hills, Glentane Hill and the steep west-facing

slopes of Fairlie Moor are all important in providing a backdrop to the coastal

fringe and should not be developed.

Minimise effects on views from the Firth and Islands to the west

6.17 The Firth of Clyde and the generally well-settled eastern coasts of the islands

of Great Cumbrae and Bute have an overview of the whole of the uplands of

the core study area. It is important to locate wind farms to reduce the

prominence of turbines seen on the skyline and to avoid siting wind farm

development within the presently open higher, central section of the uplands

which is a feature of these views.

6.18 In terms of existing and recently consented wind farm proposals, impacts on

views from the Firth and islands will not be avoided. However, the proposed

wind farms of Waterhead Moor, Wings Law and Kaim Hill would be

considerably more visually prominent and extensive in their spread on the

skyline from these areas. Avoiding wind farm development within the core

upland area and the western ‘perimeter’ hills and directing it towards the less

sensitive lower eastern upland area, where it would consolidate existing wind

farm development, would minimise the degree of intrusiveness on these ‘middistance’

views from the west.

Conserve the separation between existing wind farms

6.19 The existing Ardrossan wind farm is located on the southern periphery of the

Park. It has a clear association with lower hills away from the core of the

uplands and is sited close to the urban areas of West Kilbride and Ardrossan

along the coast. This relatively tightly clustered wind farm is partially

contained by the Knockewart Hills which lie immediately on the northern

43


periphery of the site. The distinctive Crosbie Hills also have a role in visually

separating the existing Ardrossan wind farm and the existing Wardlaw Wood

and consented Kelburn wind farms, which are associated with a generally

higher and more extensive upland landscape to the north. This separation is

needed to delineate the differences between wind farms and their clear

association with a particular landscape and provide a ‘setting’ commensurate

with the scale of development. Development on the higher tops of the

Knowewart and Crosbie hill ranges would also be highly visible.

6.20 It is recommended therefore that development should not extend onto the

Knockewart, Blackshaw and Law Hill south of the B781 or on the Crosbie

Hills lying between the B781 and the unclassified Fairlie Moor Road or within

the valleys lying either side of these hills.

Consolidation of wind farm development

6.21 The southern part of the Clyde Muirshiel Park comprises a less extensive

tract of upland landscape and is now characterised by windfarm development

at Wardlaw Wood and Ardrossan. The consented Kelburn wind farm would

consolidate and emphasise the presence of wind farm development in this

area, appearing as a single development in many views.

6.22 The consent of the Kelburn wind farm has resulted in limited scope for any

further development within the remainder of the uplands to the south of the

A760 due to the need avoid development on the western and northern

perimeter hills and on the hills which provide a setting and separation

between existing wind farm developments. There is only very limited scope

for an extension to existing wind farm development within the less sensitive

eastern periphery of this area. Great care would, however, be needed to

avoid adverse landscape and visual cumulative effects with the existing

developments of Wardlaw Wood and the consented Kelburn proposal through

the sensitive layout of turbines and choice of compatible turbines in terms of

similar scale, design and rotation speed. Any proposal in this area should aim

to mitigate as far as possible the design failings of the existing Wardlaw Wood

wind farm, which are described in paragraph 5.4 of this report. An extension

to existing wind farm development in this area would result in capacity being

reached in the upland area to the south of the A760.

44


Distinctive hill summits seen from the east

The Crosbie Hills play an important role in

separating and partially containing windfarm

developments

Western hills provide a backdrop and setting

to coastal development

North Ayrshire Landscape

and Visual Sensitivity

to Windfarm Development

Phase 1 Study

Photographs of key landscape features

Fig No: 10


Appendix A: References

Ayrshire Joint Planning Unit, Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan. November 2007

Ayrshire Joint Planning Unit, Ayrshire Supplementary Planning Guidance: Wind Farm

Development. Final Draft February 2009.

Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan 2025, Report of Survey Technical Report TR03/2006 –

Renewables

Clyde Muirshiel Park Authority, Park Strategy 2008-2011

Clyde Muirshiel Park Authority Framework Guidance Document on windfarm

development proposals affecting Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park February 2005.

Cobham Resource Consultants Landscape Character Assessment of the Clyde

Muirshiel Regional Park 1994.

Community Windpower Ltd Inverkip Community Windfarm Environmental Impact

Statement, July 2006

Community Windpower, Millour Hill Community Windfarm Environmental Statement.

October 2006.

The Countryside Agency. Landscape Character Assessment Guidance for Scotland

and England, Topic Paper 6: Techniques and Criteria for Judging Capacity and

Sensitivity, 2004.

Countryside Commission for Scotland, Scotland’s Scenic Heritage, 1978

DEPA, Report to the Scottish Ministers on the Kelburn Windfarm Inquiry

(PPA/310/159), 28 th November 2008.

Land Use Consultants, Ayrshire and Clyde Valley Windfarm Landscape Capacity

Study, March 2004.

Land Use Consultants. 2003. Wind Turbine Development: Landscape Assessment,

Evaluation and Guidance. Commissioned report for Breckland Council and King’s Lynn

and West Norfolk Borough Council.

Macaulay Enterprises Limited. Ordering Hypothetical Windfarm Developments – A

study to optimise the development of windfarms in North Ayrshire whilst minimising

visual impact 5 th June 2003.

Natural Power, Kaim Hill Wind Farm Environmental Statement, 2008.

45


North Ayrshire Council, Draft Core Paths Plan. North Ayrshire Council (undated)

North Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Local Plan, November 2005

Renewable Energy Systems Ltd, Kelburn Wind Farm Environmental Statement,

(2004)

Renewable Energy Systems Ltd, Kelburn Wind Farm Supplementary Environmental

Information, Volume 2, 2008.

Scottish Government, Planning Advice Note (PAN) 45: Annex 2: Spatial Framework

and Supplementary Planning Guidance for Windfarms. November 2008

Scottish Natural Heritage, Policy Statement 02/02, Strategic Locational Guidance for

Onshore Wind Farms in Respect of the Natural Heritage, updated March 2009.

Scottish Natural Heritage Ayrshire and Clyde Valley Landscape Character

Assessment, 1998

Scottish Natural Heritage, Guidance Note on the Cumulative Effects of Windfarms

(Version 2, 2005)

Scottish Natural Heritage, Guidelines on the Environmental Impacts of Windfarms

and Small Scale Hydro-Electric Schemes, 2001

Scottish Natural Heritage, Visual Representation of Windfarms, Good Practice Guide.

2007

Scottish Government, SPP6 Renewable Energy (2006)

University of Newcastle. Visual Assessment of Windfarms: Best Practice. Scottish

Natural Heritage Report, 2002

University of Newcastle. Landscape Capacity Study for Onshore Wind Energy

Development in the Western Isles. SNH Commissioned Report No. 042 (ROAME No.

F02LC04) 2004

Wind Hydrogen Ltd, Wings Law Windfarm Environmental Statement, July 2007.

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Appendix B: Review of specific wind farm proposals

KAIM HILL WINDFARM

APPRAISAL OF KEY LANDSCAPE AND VISUAL EFFECTS

Introduction

This appraisal of the landscape and visual effects of the proposed Kaim Hill

Windfarm is based on a review of the Environmental Statement (ES) of July 2008

produced by the applicant. A visit to the site and surrounding area was undertaken in

June 2008, prior to the issue of the ES, as part of the work undertaken for the

Landscape Capacity Study for Windfarm Development within North Ayrshire.

The Proposal

The proposal comprises 5 turbines of 125metres high to blade tip, sited around the

summit of Kaim Hill. An access track of approximately 8.6km is proposed to be

constructed from the B781 over the Crosbie Hills to the site. The grid connection to

Hunterston Farm GSH substation would comprise a mix of underground cable and

overhead line carried on wood poles and would form a separate application.

Section 3 of the ES outlines the process of site selection. It is noted that North

Ayrshire Council and SNH are not listed in Table 3.1 as pre-scoping consultees,

despite designations and public amenity being outlined as key site selection criteria.

The presence of steep slopes and watercourses are noted as constraints to

development which have contributed to the limitation in the eventual numbers of

turbines proposed (ES, paragraph 3.2.1.4).

Assessment Methodology

Section 6 of the ES outlines the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) of

the proposal and this forms the focus of this appraisal. The methodology adopted for

assessment of landscape and visual impacts generally accords with the Guidelines

for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (GLVIA, second Edition).

Background to the Proposal

Existing Landscape Character

The proposal is sited on the western periphery of an upland area which lies between

the Firth of Clyde and the Garnock valley in North Ayrshire. The proposal lies at the

southern end of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park where the uplands are generally

less elevated and extensive than those occurring to the north of the A760 and where

existing windfarm development is a feature.

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In terms of local landscape character, there is a strong north-west/south-east grain to

the landform of this character area evident in the pattern of valleys and hill ranges

such as the Crosbie Hills or the upland plateau of more subtly rounded summits

found between the valley accommodating the Muirhead and Camphill Reservoirs and

the Knockendon Reservoir. Kaim Hill (387m) forms a distinct rounded hill abutting

the settled coastal fringe to the Firth of Clyde. The steep western slopes of Kaim Hill

provide an open and rugged backdrop to the settlement of Fairlie.

A narrow road provides an elevated route within this local landscape, aligned close to

the naturalistically indented and scrub-fringed Caaf Reservoir which sits at the base

of the Crosbie Hills. This road steeply descends west down the scarp slopes of the

uplands to the coastal fringe. Forestry plantations, access tracks, transmission lines

and the Wardlaw Wood windfarm (6 turbines, 125m high) are located on the lower

eastern hills of this area, some 2.9km from the Kaim Hill proposal.

Future Landscape Change

The 14 turbine Kelburn windfarm has recently been consented following a Public

Local Inquiry and this would lie just over 1km to the north-east of the Kaim Hill

proposal.

Landscape Impacts

Kaim Hill and the Crosbie Hills are important in separating and partially containing

the existing wind farm developments of Ardrossan and Wardlaw Wood (and also the

consented Kelburn proposal) within the upland area to the south of the A760. The

existing Wardlaw Wood wind farm is associated with lower and forested hills to the

east while the consented Kelburn windfarm would be set back from the coastal rim

and located within a slightly lower plateau-like area. The existing Ardrossan windfarm

is associated with lower hills on the southern fringes of the uplands and close to

more extensive settlement and infrastructure. The Kaim Hill windfarm proposal would

breach the containment provided to these existing windfarms by slightly higher

ground, particularly when seen in views from the west. It would also have a different

association with landscape character than existing and consented windfarm

developments in that it would be located on higher ground on the western edge of the

uplands and therefore close to the settled coastal fringe and Firth of Clyde.

The uplands of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park are important in the contrast they

provide with the settled coastal fringes. They contribute to the high scenic quality of

the wider landscape composition to the west where they edge the Firth of Clyde. The

steep slopes and predominantly open tops of the western ‘peripheral’ hills are

particularly valuable in providing the landscape setting to settlements such as Largs

and Fairlie and to Inventory listed designed landscapes such as Kelburn. The 125m

high turbines of the proposal would be dominant features within the narrow,

contained landscape of the ‘Raised Beach Coast’ Landscape Character Type (LCT)

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and would appear to diminish the perceived vertical scale of the steep scarp above

the settled coastal edge.

Impacts on visual amenity

Kaim Hill is well-used by walkers and mountain bikers. It forms a key vantage point

for spectacular views over the Firth of Clyde and the islands to the west. The LVIA, in

asserting that turbines would be ‘visually permeable’, ignores the visual distraction of

moving blades and intrusion of access tracks and turbines in the foreground of what

are currently open views from the hill. Impacts on people accessing the hill would be

adverse and significant.

While the proposal would be visible from the settled lowlands to the east and south, it

would be seen in the context of existing and consented wind farm development which

would reduce its impact. The development however is sited on the western periphery

of the upland area and as such it would be visually prominent, significantly impacting

on views from settlements, roads and coastal areas in the adjacent ‘Raised Beach

Coast’ character area to the west. There would be adverse and significant impacts on

views from the settlements of Largs and Fairlie where turbines would be prominent

features seen in views from popular coastal esplanades and beaches. Existing wind

farm development is not visible from these settlements or the coastal fringe and

lower hill slopes between them at present.

The visualisations for viewpoints 5, 7 and 8 in the ES illustrate the likely visual

dominance of the Kaim Hill proposal seen from the settled coastal fringe. I consider

that the magnitude of change is under-estimated in the assessment from viewpoints

5 (Largs) and 7 (Kelburn Country Park) and that impacts on high sensitivity receptors

would be major not the moderate/major concluded in the ES. Whilst accepting that

views from these locations will tend to focus on the Firth of Clyde, the proximity of the

wind farm, its location on the skyline of hills which form the backdrop to the view and

overlapping of turbines would increase the magnitude of change.

Further to the west, there would be significant adverse impacts on views from the

Firth of Clyde, from Great Cumbrae and from the east coast of Bute. Although this

proposal only comprises 5 turbines, and therefore the extent of development visible

on the skyline would be limited, the turbines would be noticeably larger and more

visually prominent than other existing and consented wind farm developments visible

on the skyline of the North Ayrshire uplands from these areas.

The visualisations from viewpoints 2 and 4 illustrate the prominence of the proposal

further west from the islands of Great Cumbrae and Bute (Kilchattan). They are also

representative of views from the Firth of Clyde when sailing in the area. I consider

that there would be significant and adverse impacts on visual amenity from these

areas.

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The potential landscape and visual effects of the proposed access track from the

B781 over the Crosbie Hills to the site have not been assessed in the ES. No

assessment viewpoint has been selected from the B781 and although it is

appreciated that visibility of the wind farm may be limited it would have been useful to

illustrate the alignment of the proposed access track, together with any views of the

Kaim Hill turbines, transmission lines and the existing/consented wind farm

developments of Kelburn and Wardlaw Wood. 1

Cumulative Landscape and Visual Impacts

This proposal would further consolidate windfarm development within the southern

upland area of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park to the south of the A760. However,

this proposal would differ from other existing and consented windfarm development

as it would be sited on a particularly prominent hill on the western periphery of the

uplands. It would have a significant additional impact when seen in context with

these other windfarm developments because of its greater visual prominence but

also because of its impact on the setting and separation the slightly higher ground of

Kaim Hill provides to existing and consented windfarm development.

Cumulatively, this proposal may also be perceived as spreading the visual influence

of large scale industrial features into a less modified section of the settled coastal

fringe in a context where the Hunterston development and Inverkip Power Station

chimney are key features to the north and south.

The cumulative visualisations contained in the ES are difficult to decipher, particularly

as photographs have not been reproduced from the viewpoints selected. It has

therefore been difficult to gauge the potential cumulative effects of different heights of

turbines between the consented Kelburn windfarm (100m) and this proposal which

has turbines of 125m high. 2 If the Council is minded to approve this proposal, it will

be important to impose conditions which address compatibility of turbine design and

details of blade rotation to mitigate any potential cumulative impact.

Conclusions

This proposal is inappropriately sited on a distinctive hill on the western periphery of

the upland area. It would have significant adverse impacts on landscape character in

that it would diminish the setting and contrast provided to the settled coastal fringe. It

would also be contrary to the pattern and association of existing and recently

consented windfarms with areas of lower elevation away from the western perimeter

hills within the upland area between the A760 and B781.

1 The Reporter for the Kelburn PLI noted the likely visual intrusion of the access road from the

A760 (paragraph 10.59). The Kaimes Hill access track would exacerbate the accumulation of

infrastructure within this upland area.

2 The Reporter for the Kelburn PLI concluded that significant cumulative effects would not

arise from the juxtaposition of the Wardlaw Wood (125m turbines) and the Kelburn proposal

(100m turbines) in close views from the vicinity of the Caaf Reservoir (paragraph 10.60)

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The proposal would have significant adverse impacts on views and the visual

amenity of people using Kaim Hill for walking and cycling. There would also be

significant adverse impacts on views from the settlements of Fairlie, Largs and West

Kilbride, from coastal esplanades, beaches and roads and from the Inventory listed

designed landscape and popular Country Park of Kelburn. This proposal would also

impact on views from the Firth of Clyde and islands with significant adverse impacts

from Great Cumbrae, the east coast of Bute and Kilchattan Bay.

The LVIA identifies a number of these significant impacts on views although I believe

that the magnitude of change is under-estimated in some instances. The proposed

access road from the B781 would also impact on views although it has not been

possible to fully ascertain the likely significance of impacts due to the lack of

information contained in the LVIA.

I believe that there is a strong case for refusing this proposal on the basis of

unacceptable significant adverse landscape and visual impacts.

Carol Anderson

April 8 th 2009

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WINGS LAW WINDFARM PROPOSAL

REVIEW OF LANDSCAPE AND VISUAL EFFECTS

July 2008

Summary

The proposed Wings Law windfarm is sited within the core of the uplands which form

part of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park (CMRP). This area of higher and more

defined hills has a more remote and undeveloped character than other parts of the

uplands of mainland North Ayrshire. This proposal would extend wind farm

development into this intact core area of uplands, significantly affecting landscape

character and the sense of wildness which can be experienced when walking in this

area.

This proposal would also impact on the adjacent small scale character area of the

farmed hill fringes lying between Kilbirnie and Lochwinnoch. There would be

significant impacts associated with the widening of public roads and construction of

new access tracks in this area. Turbines would dominate the intimate scale of this

strongly rural area and conflict with the distinctive pattern of small woodlands,

buildings and rolling pastures.

There would be extensive visibility of this proposal from the outer Firth of Clyde and

the islands of Great Cumbrae and Bute to the west. Views from the settled lowlands

to the east will also be significantly affected where turbines will interrupt the presently

open skyline of the undeveloped core of the uplands which provide a backdrop to

views from this area. There would be close views of this wind farm from hill summits

such as Misty Law and Irish Law where tracks and moving turbines will be in close

proximity and would reduce the characteristic openness of this upland area and

detract from the focus of views to the Firth and Arran.

Cumulative landscape and visual impacts would occur between this proposal and the

existing wind farms of Ardrossan and Wardlaw Wood as the distinct association of

wind farm development with the lower, more modified upland area to the south is

broken. Cumulative impacts would also occur with the Kelburn, Waterhead Moor and

Millour Hill wind farm proposals as the spacing between developments would be

substantially reduced and the character of the uplands changed to one where wind

farm development was the dominant feature.

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Background

This report on the landscape and visual effects of the proposed Wings Law windfarm

has been based on a review of the Environmental Statement produced by the

applicant and assessment in the field undertaken by two professional landscape

architects during June 2008.

The Wings Law Proposal

The proposed Wings Law windfarm comprises 24 turbines of 125m height to blade

tip. It is understood that this proposal replaces the 125 turbine Ladymoor wind farm

which was previously proposed in a similar location by the same applicant. The

Environmental Statement (ES) which accompanies this new application is dated July

2007.

The Information provided by the Applicant

Site Selection

There is inadequate information provided on the site selection process within the ES.

Methodology used in the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA)

The methodology used in the landscape and visual assessment of this proposal

generally accords with the Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment

(GLVIA) jointly issued by the Landscape Institute and the Institute of Environmental

Management and Assessment, second edition. However, there are some notable

anomalies in the definition of landscape and visual sensitivity and the consequent

conclusions reached on some landscape and visual effects. Specific examples of

these are addressed in detail in the relevant sections of this report.

Computer Generated Visibility Mapping, Photographs and Visualisations

The Zone of Theoretical Visibility maps (ZTV) maps within the ES are illegible and do

not comply with the SNH Visual Representation of Windfarms Good Practice

Guidance issued in March 2006. The use of opaque colour obscures the base map

making it extremely difficult to ascertain precisely where views of the wind farm will

occur. Other maps contained in the ES are also poorly produced, for example Figure

5.02a which is unreadable due to the use of too many visually confusing colour

overlays which mask the base map.

The photography contained within the ES is generally poor with a number of

photographs taken in unsuitable conditions. Paragraph 5.5.17 of the ES states that

the photographs were taken in 2006, although the Ardrossan and Wardlaw Wood

wind farms were constructed and operational by 2004 and 2006 respectively but do

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not appear on the photomontage (photographs of the existing view not having been

reproduced in the ES). It would have been good practice to have considered both

these existing developments as forming the landscape and visual baseline for the

assessment and to have undertaken new photography to illustrate potential

cumulative effects.

Visualisations are also of a very poor standard with a number being cropped so that

the full height and extent of turbines is not shown in the view, for example Viewpoint

2: Glengarnock Castle drive, where turbines would be visible to the right of the view

but are not shown on the wireline or photomontage. This also occurs in viewpoint 3.

Many of the photomontage are unclear with fuzzy turbines shown against pale skies

and when compared in the field against existing windfarm developments at a similar

distance, substantially under-estimate the likely visual effects. An example of this is

viewpoint 7 from Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve and viewpoint 13 from Kilchattan Bay

on Bute.

The Planning Context

The proposed development site lies within an area of sensitive landscape identified in

the North Ayrshire Local Plan (Excluding Isle of Arran) and within the Clyde Muirshiel

Regional Park (CMRP).

Policy ENV5A relating to the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park states that:

“ Development within this area shall only accord with the Local Plan where it can be

demonstrated that:

a) the development is appropriate in design and scale to its surroundings

b) there is no significant adverse effect on the intrinsic landscape qualities of the

area as outlined in Policy ENV5; and

c) the proposal shall not result in unacceptable intrusion, or have a significant

adverse effect on the natural or built heritage of the park”

Landscape Effects

The LVIA relies on the broad landscape character assessment outlined in the

Ayrshire Landscape Character Assessment published by SNH (1998). This is a

strategic assessment which does not consider more detailed landscape character

evident within the ‘Rugged Moorland with Hills and Valleys’ Landscape Character

Type (LCT) within which the proposed Wings Law wind farm would be located. There

are also notable differences within the ‘Broad Valley Lowland’ LCT which lies in close

proximity to the east of the proposal which have similarly not been identified in the

LVIA.

The proposed Wings Law windfarm is sited within the core of the uplands which form

part of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park (CMRP). This area of generally higher and

more distinct hills has a more remote and undeveloped character than other parts of

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the ‘Rugged Moorland with Hills and Valleys’ LCT. To the north the character of the

Rugged Moorland LCT is influenced by roads and transmission lines and features a

number of reservoirs and forestry. To the south of the A760 the Rugged Moorland

LCT also features reservoirs, roads and transmission lines but is additionally

influenced by the presence of existing windfarms at Ardrossan and Wardlaw Wood.

The Wings Law proposal would extend large scale built development into the more

intact core area of these uplands, significantly affecting landscape character and the

strong sense of seclusion and wildness which is commonly experienced when

walking in this area. The integrity of this central ‘core’ area is visible in views to the

uplands from the islands and Outer Firth of Clyde to the west and from the wellsettled

valleys and hill slopes to the east where the hills are noticeably higher and hill

tops more distinctive than the generally subtly rolling broad summits of hills

characteristic of the CMRP. Transmission lines and turbines interrupt the skyline of

the uplands seen to the south and north while this central core area is intact.

The rolling lower hill slopes lying between the uplands of Clyde Muirshiel and the

broad flat bottomed valley between Kilbirnie and Lochwinnoch have an attractive and

highly scenic character. This area comprises a patchwork of rolling pastures

enclosed by dense intact hedgerows and cut by narrow wooded valleys. Minor roads

provide access to traditional small farms and cottages which complement the

strongly rural character of the area. These rolling farmed slopes are complemented

by the simple backdrop provided by the open uplands and together create a

scenically rich wider landscape composition.

This windfarm proposal would dominate the scale of the farmed hill slopes and

conflict with the strong pattern of small woodlands and hedgerows which is a key

characteristic. It would also adversely affect the rich landscape composition which

occurs between this area and the simpler upland backdrop of hills. The specific

effects on this landscape and the wider landscape composition was not addressed in

the LVIA.

The proposal would also have a significant adverse effect on the landscape qualities

of the CMRP, as acknowledged to some extent within the LVIA which defines this

area as being of high sensitivity (ES, Table 5.3).

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Visual Effects

Extent of visibility

Although it is difficult to be sure about the likely extent and nature of visibility of this

windfarm proposal because of the poor quality ZTV maps produced in the ES, it

would appear from Figure 5.01 that there would be limited visibility from:

� The settled coastal edge to the west and south and from the narrow valleys

and hill slopes which back this area

� The lower lying moorland around Loch Thom (although it appears that there

may be some views from the minor road between Greenock and Loch Thom)

� The settlements of Gourock, Greenock and Port Glasgow, West Kilbride and

Ardrossan.

There would however be extensive visibility from the following areas:

� the outer Firth of Clyde, Cumbrae, the eastern side of Bute and north-eastern

coast and mountains of Arran (within the extent of the 35km study area)

� Hill tops within the uplands of the CMRP.

� To the south and east including the well-settled slopes and valley floor from

Kilwining to Johnstone and within 10km of the settlements of Dalry, Kilbirnie,

Beith and Lochwinnoch.

� To the north-east where there may be views from the Kilmacolm and Bridge

of Weir area which lie within 15km of the site.

� From the A760 which lies within close proximity to the site and from many

other routes including the A737 where the uplands of the CMRP provide a

focus and backdrop to views.

Assessment of views

A large number of viewpoints have been selected for assessment in the ES. While

the majority of key viewpoints appear to have included in the 32 selected (although it

is difficult to fully ascertain this due to the illegibility of ZTV maps), in general it is

considered that there are too many visualisations produced from more distant

viewpoints beyond 18km and over. The analysis of the varying degrees of

significance of effects outlined n paragraph 5.5.20 onwards is therefore a largely

meaningless exercise when such a high proportion of viewpoints lie at some

considerable distance from the proposed wind farm development. .

The sensitivity accorded visual receptors in Table 5.4 is ill-founded and inadequately

explained in Appendix 5.9. GVLIA considers…. “users of recreational facilities

including public rights of way whose attention or interest may be focussed on the

landscape” (ref, 7.32) to be most sensitive. This does not appear to have been taken

into account in this assessment in that Misty Law, The Lion Viewpoint on Great

Cumbrae and Mount Stuart House (amongst others) are deemed to only be of

medium sensitivity and Goat Fell of low sensitivity, not the high sensitivity that would

56


e expected. A number of golf courses in comparison are accorded high sensitivity,

despite being of fairly restricted access for the general public.

There is scant analysis of the nature of visual effect from each of the viewpoints set

out in the Table 5.9. The distance between the windfarm and the viewpoint is not

noted either in the assessment or on the visualisations. In general the assessment

under-estimates the visual effects of this proposal either because receptor sensitivity

or the magnitude of effect is misjudged.

In views from Cumbrae and Bute from the west, this proposal occupies a relatively

limited extent of the skyline of the uplands of Clyde Muirshiel. It is however seen in a

context where both the existing Wardlaw Wood and Ardrossan windfarms are visible

and form the baseline. There would be cumulative visual effects arising from these

multiple wind farms and these are addressed in more detail below.

In views from the east, this proposal would have a far more significant effect on views

from settlement and roads. The uplands of the CMRP are a focus from the broad

settled valley and there would be significant effects on views from settlements such

as Dalry, Beith and Kilbirnie and from roads. The existing windfarms at Ardrossan

and Wardlaw Wood form a key part of the character of views.

This proposal would have significant and major adverse impacts on views from hill

tops such as Misty Law within the uplands of the CMRP. There may also be intrusion

on views from the minor public road around the Loch Thom area, although no

visualisations were produced from this area and it is unclear what the extent of

visibility may be from the ZTV (Figure 5.05). The openness of views across the

uplands would be diminished and turbines and access tracks will be in close

proximity to a number of key viewpoints. One of the principal attributes of the CMRP

is the views across the Firth of Clyde to the islands of Cumbrae, Bute and Arran.

While the dramatic skyline of the North Arran NSA will still be visible and

uninterrupted by turbines in views from Misty Law, the presence of moving turbines in

close proximity will be a visual distraction and will compete with the focus of views.

Cumulative Landscape and Visual Impacts

A number of existing and proposed windfarm developments are considered in the

Wings Law LVIA. Having reviewed the cumulative ZTVs and visualisations, it is

concluded that the following developments have the greatest potential to incur

significant cumulative landscape and visual effects with the proposed Wings Law

windfarm:

Existing/consented Proposed windfarms

windfarms

Ardrossan (+extension) Inverkip (Leapmoor)

Wardlaw Wood Waterhead Moor

Kelburn

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Millour Hill

The relative proximity of the proposed Kelburn, Millour Hill and existing Wardlaw

Wood windfarms would result in this appearing as a single development to the south

of the A760 in many views. From the visualisation produced from Misty Law for

example, it can be seen that the Wings Law proposal would also appear to coalesce

with these developments if all were constructed.

The cumulative ZTVs are illegible and visualisations very poor, particularly the

wirelines generated without a photograph of the view, for example viewpoint 12.

Viewpoint 6 from the A760 should also have been considered in the assessment of

cumulative effects as close views of the Kelburn, Millour Hill, Wardlaw Wood

grouping together with this proposal would be possible close to the junction with the

B784.

Table 5.13 is unintelligible. It is unclear what is meant by ‘Sensitivity in relation to

Wings Law’ in the fourth column as sensitivity should relate to the sensitivity of the

viewpoint and receptor. In accordance with SNH current guidance on the assessment

of cumulative effects of windfarms, the additional effect of this proposal should be

assessed taking into account all other proposals. It is not clear whether this guidance

has been followed in the LVIA.

The LVIA takes no account of the accumulation of built structures encroaching into

the largely undeveloped core of the uplands. This should have included consideration

of transmission lines, telecommunication masts, access tracks as well as turbines.

The ‘Summary and Conclusions’ section (paragraph 5.9) of the LVIA does however

acknowledge that cumulative visual impact of the Wings Law development is high in

places because it is located relatively close to a number of other developments.

Both the Waterhead Moor and Wings Law would encroach upon the remote areas of

the hills in the Regional Park and would extend windfarm development visible on the

skyline of the uplands into the presently intact central core. Together these

developments would have major adverse impacts on the character of this remote and

undeveloped core of the ‘Rugged Moorland Hills and Valleys’ LCT and thus the

quality of the CMRP that extends over much of the area covered by this LCT. The

proportion of open uplands to developed uplands would be greatly diminished if both

these developments were consented.

Effects of Ancillary Elements

Vehicular Access

The proposed entrance to the site is off the A760 for western most turbines at

Birtlebog while remaining turbine locations will be accessed from the A760 from

Dipple Road in Kilbirnie

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Transportation issues are assessed in Chapter 12 of the ES. In Table 12.1 of this

chapter it is confirmed that the minor Dipple Road would have bends widened,

verges strengthened and tree branches trimmed in order to accommodate

construction and delivery traffic. It is also stated in 12.4.20 that a temporary bridge

and “some form of earth retaining structure will be required to retain the existing track

at its closest location to the River Garnock”.

Approximately 20km of new access tracks will be constructed. These tracks are

described in paragraph 4.4.2 as being 5m wide, increasing at bends. Four borrow

pits will be required and paragraph 4.4.5 refers to these being ‘significantly reduced

after landscaping and reinstatement’.

Restoration of verges is outlined in 4.5.10 where it is stated that ‘where applicable’

topsoil and turves will be stored and reused. There is no indication given in the ES

that ongoing landscape restoration will be routinely undertaken. Paragraph 4.5.20

rather contradicts what is said in 4.5.10 as no mention is made of the reuse of turves.

The LVIA only provides a very cursory appraisal of the effects of works to existing

public roads and the construction of new access tracks. Although it is stated in

paragraph 5.8.2 that new access tracks will….” climb up the prominent faces of the

hill in full view of many of the viewpoints” , no assessment of the nature or

significance of effects has been undertaken and no reference is made to the more

specific works described in Chapter 12. In addition, the visualisation generated for

Viewpoint 2 does not show the access tracks despite the close proximity of them in

the foreground of this view.

It is considered that widening works would be likely to have significant landscape and

visual impacts on the character of the narrow rural lane of Dipple Road which is

aligned by species-rich verges, hedgerows and occasional field trees. The

construction of new access tracks and likely earth retention works on steep hill

slopes close to the Garnock valley may also have significant landscape and visual

impacts particularly given the sensitivity of this intimate and scenic ‘hill fringe’ area.

These potential impacts have not be adequately assessed in the LVIA.

Grid Connection

Chapter 15 outlines options for the proposed grid connection, both requiring the

construction of an overhead trident style wood pole line of between 11km and 16km

length. There is no map reproduced in the ES to indicate the possible locations for

grid connection.

While it is appreciated that the grid connection will form a separate application, there

are landscape and visual issues that need to be addressed. The accumulation of

vertical infrastructure is characteristic of other parts of the ‘Rugged Moorland’ and

‘Broad Valley Lowland’ Landscape Character Types. Additional overhead lines could

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contribute to this clutter of built features and further exacerbate the detractive

aspects of this form of development, particularly where it may visually interact with

nearby transmission lines and masts.

Should the windfarm be consented it is recommended that grid connections are

undergrounded.

Decommissioning

Paragraph 4.6.2 erroneously states that ‘windfarms can be easily and rapidly

dismantled and the site restored, leaving no visible trace of its existence’. This

statement takes no account of remaining access tracks and hardstandings. There are

no proposals outlined in the ES for the removal of these elements.

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