Extract from LANDMAP Information Guidance Note 3: Using LANDMAP for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment of Onshore Wind Turbines
(Edited Temporary Version of June 2012 – Updated version due March 2013)

2.2 Planning Policy for Onshore Wind Energy
2.2.1 In the context of wind farm developments three types of areas have been identified in the Technical Advice Note (TAN) 8 on Renewable Energy (2005) as having differing status (points 1-3 below).  However, LANDMAP information should still be used in all three of the TAN 8 contexts below (Welsh Assembly Government 2005, Annex D, section 8.4) to assist in avoiding, minimizing and compensating for impacts.

1) National Parks (NPs) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs)
TAN 8 states “There is an implicit objective in TAN 8 to maintain the integrity and the quality of the landscape within the National Parks / AONBs of Wales i.e. no change in landscape character from wind turbine developments.” The WAG Policy Statement on National Parks and National Park Authorities in Wales (2007) states “In line with WAG’s policy on major developments within the Welsh Parks - and as set out in TAN 8 – there should be no significant change in landscape character as a result of wind turbine development within National Parks (or the AONBs). In conjunction with this, it is an aim of WAG that, where feasible, transmission cables should be under-grounded.”

2) Areas within and immediately adjacent to Strategic Search Areas (SSAs)
TAN 8 Strategic Search Areas (SSAs) are considered the most appropriate locations for large scale wind farm development (Welsh Assembly Government, 2005). Within the SSAs landscape change has been accepted, and the creation of ‘wind farm landscapes’ in these areas acknowledged by Government as an outcome of delivering renewable energy targets, “within (and immediately adjacent) to the SSAs, the implicit objective is to accept landscape change i.e. a significant change in landscape character from wind turbine development”.
However, given the height of turbines, the visual impacts of a windfarm inside an SSA, may well affect the character of areas some distance away. Such issues arise most clearly where SSAs are close to National Parks and AONBs. An example is the Hirwaun Inquiry, 2008, where large wind turbines sited within 8km of the National Park boundary were considered to be unduly intrusive.

3) Other areas outside the SSAs
TAN 8 states that “in the rest of Wales outside the SSAs, the implicit objective is to maintain the landscape character i.e. no significant change in landscape character from wind turbine development”.  Whilst “most areas outside SSAs should remain free of large wind power schemes”, wind farm schemes may be proposed on urban/industrial brownfield sites (up to 25MW), as smaller community based schemes (generally less than 5 MW) or as part of the re-powering and/or extension of existing wind farms.  The LVIA should help determine if the “environmental and landscape impacts are acceptable” (TAN 8 2.11-2.14).

2.2.2 The Ministerial Interim Planning Policy Statement (MIPPS) 01/2005 states that “renewable energy projects should generally be supported by local planning authorities provided environmental impacts are avoided or minimised” (12.8.6). However the requirement in MIPPS that “developers will need to be sensitive to local circumstances, including siting in relation to landform and other planning considerations”
(12.8.11) means that LANDMAP data will be valuable in understanding and avoiding or mitigating the impact of developments.

2.2.3 Good design principles and micro-siting is relevant in all instances to minimise the landscape and visual impacts of wind farms. When impacts have been minimized (in accordance with advice in MIPPS) the issue of whether the residual impacts are acceptable will have to be decided on a case by case basis.