Wind Power in the UK (PDF). - Sustainable Development Commission

sd.commission.org.uk

Wind Power in the UK (PDF). - Sustainable Development Commission

6 Landscape and environmentSummary• The landscape of the British Isles has changed dramatically through human development overthe past 5000 years and very few landscapes pre-date this• Climate change will have a radical impact on our landscape, and wind developments must beviewed in this context• Landscape and visual impacts are important environmental considerations for winddevelopment applications, yet reaction to these is highly subjective• Overall there are far fewer landscape and environmental impacts associated with wind turbineswhen compared to the alternatives – and most of the impacts can be reversed quite quickly• Wind developments can be in areas that have never had any energy generating technology inthe past and are often met with greater resistance6.1 BackgroundThis chapter looks at landscape, visual andenvironmental issues related to the siting of winddevelopments. A sustainable approach demandsthat the issue of wind power is consideredalongside competing alternatives, all of whichalso have landscape and environmental impacts.There is also a need for the cumulative impact ofwind developments on the landscape andenvironment to be considered, as all energydevelopments will eventually result in associatedimpacts as a result of network expansion andupgrades.With increasing pressures on energy policy andthe need to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide,it is hard for any community to be consideredexempt from the task of delivering a low carbonfuture. As climate change presents the mostserious threat to UK landscapes, technologiesthat help limit our contribution to climatechange should be encouraged, even where thisrepresents a temporary loss of amenity.This section provides a synopsis of the differenttypes of wind farms, their landscape and visualcharacteristics, wind farm design issues andresulting landscape and visual effects whichmay cause change to the existing UK landscape.It also looks at the environmental impact ofwind developments and the main nonrenewablealternatives.Taking a holistic sustainable development viewdoes not automatically mean a ‘green light’ forwind developments, as it would requireconsideration of a wide range of landscape,natural heritage, and environmental issues aswell as social and economic ones.6.2 Landscape changeOne definition of landscape is ‘an extensive areaof scenery’. This does not do full justice to thecomplexity of the term, which is betterdescribed as ‘habitat plus mankind and theresulting combination of patterns, perceptionand process’. The Landscape Institute defineslandscape as ‘the whole of our externalenvironment, whether within urban or ruralareas’. This document should not be regarded asdefinitive guidance on this subject, which iscovered in a number of technical publicationsand detailed guidance documents.52 Wind Power in the UK sustainable development commission

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