Fife Council has recently adopted a set of validation standards for wind turbine/farm applications that will help provide more robust applications, requiring more detailed information from developers that should help better protect residents with increased accuracy of reporting impacts on residential properties.
The validation checklist was developed by elected councillors, Fife Council planners and community based groups, which included Clatto Landscape Protection Group, SPOTFife and Loch of Shining Waters, as part of an Informal Working Group.
Mary Bennett (Improvement Officer) from Economy, Planning and Employability Services stated;
The checklist has been developed by a special working group which comprised elected members, planners and members of the public. The aim of the checklist is to secure a higher quality of submission at the start of the application process. This will ensure both the smooth processing of the application and also that neighbours and communities have access to as much information as possible relating to the application from the submission of the project for planning permission.
Clatto Landscape Protection Group had first approached Fife Council with concerns over the lack of protection for residential amenity, and through their ongoing work with Fife Council, they approached SPOTFife and LoSW to form part of the Informal Working Group.
The remit of the IWG was to consider the current planning application assessment processes, with particular reference to visualisations and residential amenity considerations. It was also set against lesson learned from the Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) appeal decision letters and specific issues raised by the local representatives and other parties around visual and residential impact. The credibility and usefulness of submitted photomontages and the need to ensure a robust and logical assessment of the planning issues is set out in a transparent and easily understood format in officer reports were also key elements in this improvement process.
The validation standards has adopted certain criteria that will provide for a more robust assessment on the visual impact on residential amenity which includes;
- A plan identifying all individual residential properties and settlements within 2 km will be submitted.
- An appropriate representative range of views shall be submitted from close to the proposed turbine, intermediate distance, and distant landscape views. The choice of views selected should be justified by an accompanying statement together with a suitable ordnance survey based plan identifying the selected viewpoints.
- Photomontages shall be submitted from a representative selection of the nearest residential properties where the applicant does not have a financial interest. Views from the properties will illustrate a view from the garden and where relevant any main public room, such as a living room which faces or has prominent views of the turbine. The selection of views will be justified in the form of a residential visual impact assessment with the impact of the turbine on the properties assessed and quantified in an appropriate tabular or matrix form. The suitability of the views and accuracy will be further vetted as part of the assessment of the application by the case officer. Additional views and analysis may be requested.
The Wind Turbine Validation Checklist is being made available to any wind developers submitting an application to Fife Council.
The full validation checklist can be downloaded at: Wind Turbine Validation Checklist (PDF)