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Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 1 National Assessment of the Visual Impact of Wind Farms Dr Andrew Lothian.

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Presentation on theme: "Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 1 National Assessment of the Visual Impact of Wind Farms Dr Andrew Lothian."— Presentation transcript:

1 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 1 National Assessment of the Visual Impact of Wind Farms Dr Andrew Lothian

2 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 2 Issues TScenic quality is regarded as subjective - “in the eyes of the beholder”. TBelieved to be not possible to measure objectively and to predict likely visual impacts.

3 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 3 Issues TVisual impacts of wind farms an Australian- wide issue. TNeed for credible practical method to predict likely visual impact. TFuture growth & well being of industry depends on this.

4 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 4 Presentation TWhat are landscape resources ? TDoes everyone view beauty differently? TMeasurement of landscape quality TWhat makes landscape quality? TApplication to wind farms

5 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 5 What are landscape resources? TA public resource – not private TNot diminished by use TChanged but never destroyed TA qualitative resource – dependent of human perception

6 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 6 Are landscape resources worth looking after? TRecreation and tourism TQuality of life TContribution to land values TPsychological value TImage of a country TImportant economic, environmental & social resource

7 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 7 What we like Mt Ossa, Tasmania (average 8.78) Cape Spencer (8.41)

8 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 8 What we don’t like Samphire swamps (3.93) Gibber plain (3.39)

9 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 9 Does everyone view beauty differently? TSurprising as it may seem, people’s landscape preferences are similar. TFindings from S.A. study of >300 people rating 160 scenes. TBoxplot – box covers 25% to 75% of ratings, line is median, ‘whiskers’ are range Influence on ratings of Age

10 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 10 Gender Income Education Childhood residence

11 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 11 Cultural Influences TMany studies compare cultural influence on landscape preferences TExample of Italians & Australians viewing scenes from both countries – differences are slight. TStudies generally show similar results between cultures

12 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 12 The literature and my South Australian research indicates – The similarities in people’s landscape preferences are far greater than the differences Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder – but everyone’s eyes are similar This similarity in preferences provides the basis for assessing landscape quality

13 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 13 How can landscape quality be measured? SBeing a qualitative attribute of the environment, it does not exist outside of human perception. SIt requires people to measure it.

14 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 14 Expert landscape appraisals TStudies have found that landscape appraisals by experts (e.g. landscape architects) tend to differ from the community. TSinclair-Thomas Matrix commonly used - classifies scenic quality, scale of development, zone of visual impact, & degree of visual modification. Scorings are added together. TScorings are ordinal ranks, cannot add them (like adding A, B, C). TWe view landscapes holistically, not as parts. TResults inform but do not necessarily correspond with community preferences.

15 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 15 Science of Psychophysics SA branch of psychology that provides approach to measuring landscape quality SDeveloped by Gustav Fechner ( ) SMeasures effect of stimuli (eg noise, taste, sight) on the brain SBased on people being reasonably consistent in making choices among options. A person’s landscape preferences do not change widely S Group preferences follow normal bell curve distribution; means represents true value

16 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 16 Basic methodology for assessment of landscape quality Landscape Scene - Independent Variable Rating of Landscape Scene by Respondents - Dependent Variable Measure statistical relationships between landscape and ratings

17 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 17 Key requirements TColour photographs – sufficient number to cover area and range of features TStandardised format, 50 mm lens, non-artistic composition, good lateral & foreground context to scenes, single landscape unit, use typical representative scenes – avoid unusual T10 point rating scale (1 – low, 10 - high) T300 minimum raters, adults, broadly representative of community

18 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 18 Photographs vs field assessment TStudies show that colour photographs can give similar ratings as field studies TImpractical to take large groups to rate landscape TPhotographs enable widely separated locations to be rated on a comparable basis – important in wind farm evaluation Musgraves NW S.A., SE Forests

19 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 19 South Australia’s landscape resources Most extensive mapping of landscape quality undertaken on basis of community preferences

20 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 20 Landscape quality ratings for South Australia Areas of ratings 33.8% of S.A % 544.1% 62.2% 70.5% 80.03% Generally middle rating

21 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 21 Landscape quality ratings South Australian coast Lengths of coast 31.9% of S.A % 659.8% 729.4% 87.9% Generally high rating

22 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 22 Landscape resources vs wind resources TAreas of good wind resource often coincide with high landscape value – why is this so? TCoast particularly significant – eg west coast Eyre Peninsula, lower Yorke Peninsula, TEscarpments & hills

23 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 23 Wind farms and landscape TUnderstanding what factors make landscape quality is important in understanding the visual impact of wind farms and how to minimise this impact TFollowing findings are from South Australian study TResults are broadly applicable to Australia

24 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 24 TLand form TLand cover TLand use TWater TDiversity TNaturalism What creates landscape quality?

25 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 25 Land form Flats, hills & mountains Mean ratings- TFlats 4.69 THills 5.34 TMountains 7.05

26 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 26 Coastal landforms TCliffs8.56 TBeach/rocks/cliffs 8.04 TBeaches/cliffs 8.03 TBeaches/dunes 7.68 TRocks/cliff7.52 TBeaches/flat hinterland 6.66

27 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 27 Influence of water Water has a significant influence on ratings Scenes with water 6.82 Scenes without water 5.31

28 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 28 Coastal scenes - factors 4 factors examined for effect on ratings TWater area 15.3% TWater/land edge 15.5% TWater movement 8.0% TPsychological impact - serene/arousing 14.0% % over range of scores

29 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 29 Influence of naturalism Naturalism is extent of natural appearance without imprint of human presence visually evident. Scored out of 5 Score Many windfarms located in remote natural areas.

30 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 30 Influence of diversity Diversity is “busyness of scene” – totality of landform, land use, vegetation, water, colour etc Scored out of 5 Score There were no score 5’s in S.A.

31 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 31 Implications High quality landscapes T Elevated land T Water present T Natural appearance T Diversity Thus good wind farm locations are likely to be of high landscape quality. Locationing & positioning of wind farms are thus vital factors. Relevant to coastal, agricultural and escarpment (upland) locations.

32 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 32 Potential wind farm sites Current number of wind farms is only tip of the iceberg. 2% renewables target could increase to 10%. Experience of growth in UK, Germany, US. Map of wind farms in Germany Source: Pasqualetti, et al, p 84

33 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 33 Potential wind farm sites Map indicates windy sites along coast and upland areas in South Australia. Need to identify potential areas for wind farms

34 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 34 Measuring the likely visual impacts of wind farms Just as landscape quality derives from people’s preferences, so the assessment of potential visual impacts of wind farms must also involve people.

35 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 35 Methodology – visual impacts TPrinciple is to measure landscape quality rating of scenes with and without the wind farm. TIdentify potential wind farm sites with assistance of wind industry TUse digital camera and splice panoramas of scenes TPhotograph up to 100 scenes per state TInsert photomontages of wind farm on scene. TRandomise order of scenes to avoid cognitive analysis by raters deciding impacts.

36 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 36 Methodology – visual impacts TRespondents rate landscape quality of each scene on 1 – 10 rating scale. TUse large groups (  300 people) TParticipants should be general community, not locals or with wind industry links – they should have no interest in the outcome to avoid strategic bias. TRating sessions in each State of scenes from that State. Include a few across all States as benchmarks. There would be too many scenes nationally (600) to cover all at one sitting.

37 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 37 Consistency of results TThe findings are likely to be consistent across States for similar landscapes – eg similar ratings for coastal cliffs. TThis is because it the characteristics of the scenes determine ratings, not the location. The results are therefore transferable. TState ratings are important for ownership and relevance for guidelines

38 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 38 Expected results Graph compares likely responses to wind farms – neutral, positive or negative, from ratings of scenes Extent of difference indicates significance of impact. Analysis of scenes by States and nationally.

39 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 39 Likely results TWind farm in natural areas, eg coast – negative impact but this can be minimised by locating slightly inland. TWind farm on farm land - positive impact due to added diversity TWind farm on escarpments and hills – may be positive or negative impact

40 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 40 Landscape vs use TLandscape quality is a community resource - like air and water it exists regardless of human use. TNeed to look after it as we may want to use it in the future. TSpurious to argue that if no one sees it, that scenic quality doesn’t matter. View it as a resource.

41 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 41 Use of Results TRatings will provide detailed understanding of human perception of the visual impacts of wind farms. TThis will provide basis for predicting likely community responses to wind farm proposals and indicate locations of acceptable visual impact. TState by State appraisals will provide basis for development of planning guidelines covering location, positioning and management for wind farm developers and planning authorities.

42 Australian Wind Energy Conference Andrew Lothian Wind farms & landscape resources 42 Conclusions TLandscape quality is an important community resource TIt is a subjective quality which can be assessed objectively TAssessment of the visual impacts of wind farms would assist Australia gain their benefits while safeguarding its landscape resources


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