The potential impacts of wind energy developments upon the amenity enjoyed by residents of neighbouring dwellings is a key consideration in the decision making process. TNEI is able to undertake an assessment of the potential effects in order to identify risks at the early feasibility stages, in support of planning applications or as part of a planning appeal.
One of the most sensitive land-uses of all is ‘residential’. Residents have the right to enjoy a degree of peace and tranquillity within their homes and as they move around their local area. The general aspect, environment and atmosphere associated with a residential land-use comprises residential amenity.
The concept of amenity is localised, multi-layered and concerned with the human experience in the context of the home and garden. Amenity will differ from place to place and it will be greatly influenced by the local mix of urban or rural land-uses and/or activities. However, wind turbine developments can adversely impact upon amenity by way of:
- Shadow Flicker Effects: the moving turbine blades casting a shadow,
- Noise Effects: noise from the moving blades, and,
- Effects upon Outlook: obtained from the main habitable rooms of a dwelling.
The magnitude of change would depend upon the influence of ‘primary mitigating factors’. The primary factors are the ‘separation distance’ between a dwelling and the proposal and the ‘orientation’ of a dwelling towards a proposal. By combining these results of these assessments, the initial magnitude of change can be determined. However, before arriving at a final assessment there is a need to consider the influence of ‘secondary mitigating factors’ capable of modifying the significance of any effect. Factors may include:
- Screening: the influence of topography, vegetation and/or other built form;
- Setting: the landscape context into which the proposal is being introduced;
- Context: the extent of built form visible in a particular view.
The assessment of amenity should not be regarded as ‘mechanistic’ but based on an objective professional opinion. Dwellings will be assessed and visited so that the likely effects of the proposal can be judged in the field and uniquely tailored ‘thresholds of acceptability’ determined.