Assessing the landscape impacts of wind farms: a critical analysis using three methods
There appears to be a disjuncture in the wind energy sector between the prevailing thinking in landscape assessment theory and the practice of landscape assessment. Landscape assessment theory calls for landscape to be recognised as a value-laden entity as well as a physical object. However, in much of the wind energy literature there is a clear inclination towards mathematically-derived approaches to landscape assessment. It is argued in the literature that the emphasis on one approach only captures a small proportion of the landscape. In the expert approach, an indicator of landscape impact, OAIWF, was applied to a series of 30 landscape images containing computer-generated wind turbines. A significant relationship between the landscape impact score arising from OAIWF and the photographic distance for each landscape image was discovered. A second relationship was also tentatively described between OAIWF and the preference ratings respondents assigned to landscape images in the experimental approach. In the experimental approach, 25 respondents were asked to assign preference ratings from 1-5 (one being least preferred, five being most preferred) to a series of 20 landscape images. Ten of the images contained wind turbines, while the other ten had none. Two groups of respondents in this approach exhibited a clear preference for images without wind turbines than for those with turbines, while other respondents did not exhibit strong preferences. In the experiential approach, 10 respondents were asked to take photographs of their valued landscapes, and write commentary based on these photographs in a journal. The most prominent theme to arise out of the analysis of this data was that of rurality. Respondents tended to want to preserve the rural character of the landscape, and others even saw it as ‘natural’. Another theme that arose was that of participation in the landscape. In this approach, it can be seen that people conceive of their landscapes in terms beyond the visual.
Advisor: Morgan, Richard
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: landscape; wind farms; impact assessment
Research Type: Thesis