LCC wind farm position statement June 2012


a) Landscape and Visual Impact
The County Council is very concerned that the proliferation of onshore wind farm proposals would, if approved and implemented, result in the industrialisation and urbanisation of a highly rural county renowned and characterised by its big skies and uninterrupted vistas. The introduction of strong vertical structures in a landscape with a horizontal emphasis would, it is considered, be alien in a predominately flat landscape reducing the remoteness of the landscape and diminishing the visual impact of the subtly undulating areas of the Wolds, Lincoln Edge and Southern Kesteven Uplands. Such changes would, if left to continue, reduce the visual attractiveness of the County to residents and visitors alike.
The County Council considers that onshore wind energy developments (not including micro wind energy sites) are only acceptable where they are:-

  • located outside highly sensitive landscape areas as defined in Landscape Character Assessments. The importance of uninterrupted vistas is a significant aspect of the character of the Lincolnshire landscape and therefore afforded great significance when considering the potential visual impact of developments.

  • located outside of areas defined in Landscape Character Assessments as having a low landscape capacity to visually accommodate wind turbine development. The County Council would encourage and support the District Councils to prepare rigorous landscape character assessments that include visual capacity assessments and intervisibility assessments and cumulative impact derived from the presence of existing wind farms.

  • It is considered that wind farms should not be located within the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or within 2km of the boundary of the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or greater where there are specific views present so as not to negatively impact upon views into or out of the designated area.

  • Sand dunes and coastal conservation area should be afforded protection from discordant developments, such as wind farms, which should be located outside of the coastal strip, formally defined as the coastal conservation area, and those outside of the coastal strip to demonstrate they would not have a detrimental impact upon the open coast.
  • located sufficient distance from town and villages so as not to be too prominent, for example, outside of 2km from defined settlement boundaries (those in the development plan).

  • It is considered appropriate that landscape wide projects are also provided with protection from inappropriate large scale developments. These would include established project areas. Wind farm developments are therefore considered inappropriate in the following and consequently should not be located within 2km of such:-

o Coastal Country Park;
o Witham Valley Country Park;
o Trent Vale;
o Lime Woods
o Kirkby on Bain Valley
o Baston Fen
o Laughton Woods;
o South Kesteven Woods;
o Cover Sands;
o South Kesteven Uplands;
o Coastal Grazing Marshes;

Any areas identified as being of Greater Landscape Value as these areas should be seen as being intrinsically important to the landscape character of Lincolnshire;

All sites designated as SSSIs and any wildlife sites designated in the county in order to protect ecology and diversity as laid down in the Biodiversity Action Plan.

  • In general, there is a presumption against wind turbine developments on the grounds of potential negative cumulative visual impact, unless wind farms should be located such that they would not merge with the existing developments (on and off shore), thereby resulting in a negative cumulative visual impact:
  • settlements of more than 10 dwellings should not have wind turbine developments in more than 90° of their field of view, this normally equates to 10km from windows in residential properties;
  •  individual dwellings should not have wind turbines in more than 180° of their field of view.

b) Impact on the Historic and Natural Environment

Wind turbine development should not take place in locations where:

  • the context of a historic garden, park, battlefield or designated conservation area would be visually compromised (dependent upon a site specific assessment);
  •  the visual dominance of Lincoln Cathedral would be compromised; (see also Regional Plan Policy SR10);
  • the visual significance of church spires and historic/architecturally important buildings would be compromised. Wind turbine development should be avoided where there is likely to be “conspicuous” impact;
  • there are defined areas of historic landscape and townscape importance, as defined by the Historic Landscape Characterisation Assessment and local planning authorities, and to protect the integrity of such sites in the immediate vicinity. District Councils are also encouraged to consider the potential of formally designating areas of historic landscape character associated with villages as conservation areas. North Lincolnshire Council is currently considering such a strategy to protect the historic landscape around Epworth;
  • the development would be in or in proximity to an international site of nature conservation interest and of a Site of Special Scientific Interest;

c) Residential Amenity
Amenity of existing residential occupants must be maintained at an acceptable level, therefore the following criteria shall be applied:-

  • no wind turbine developments shall be constructed in close proximity of a residential property (the accepted distance for separation is 700 metres) however, noise and amplitude modulation issues can be present up to 2km away. Therefore, unless through assessment, it can be demonstrated that there would be acceptable noise levels within the 2km radius of a residential property, the minimum distance should be 2km:

  • no wind turbines shall be constructed within a distance of a factor of ten times the diameter of the blades of a residential property to mitigate against flicker, unless intervening topography/structures negates the impact.

  • wind farm developments must demonstrate that they would have no unacceptable impact due to noise, amplitude modulation, low frequency sound or vibration on residential amenity.

d) Related Infrastructure

The presumption is for connecting cables to be placed underground and use made of existing or replacement pylons (of the same size and scale) along existing routes to carry the additional base load cabling.

e) Construction Vehicles

Access for construction and maintenance vehicles is an issue in rural areas, particularly where highway improvements are required. In such circumstances commuted sums would be required for highway improvements and reinstatement. In addition, it may be appropriate for proposals to be subject to routing agreements and bonds for construction traffic, which should be agreed prior to determination of a planning application, in order to mitigate against the impact of construction vehicles on rural communities.

e) Local Economy

Whether individually or cumulatively, wind farm developments should not have a negative impact upon the local economy, particularly upon tourism.

f) Benefits

Large scale renewable proposals should demonstrate that they deliver economic, social, environmental and community benefits that are directly related to the proposed development and are of a reasonable scale and nature to the local area.

g) Decommissioning

The decommissioning of wind farm sites should include the removal of all infrastructure whether above or below ground (including the turbine bases and access roads within the site). This will be achieved via Sc 106 planning obligations or planning conditions attached to the permission. In addition, a bond should be in place with the relevant local authority to ensure the cost of re-instatement does not fall to the taxpayer.

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