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Visual and Landscape Impact Assessment

The European EIA directives and UK environmental regulations state that the impact of a development on the visual aspects of a landscape should be assessed. Guidance comes from the Landscape Institute amongst others.

The Landscape is described as encompassing the following features:

-Natural Factors such as geological features, land, air, soils, flora and fauna.
-Cultural / Social settles, enclosures, structures
-Aesthetic and Perceptual factors such as colour, texture, sounds, and smells.

So is the area you are planning to build an areas which is visually sensitive? A map has been published by the Countryside Commission and English Nature called The Character of England Map.
somerset levels
map The Character of England Map for which we are viewing the southwest quadrant can be visited here.

If we were to click on a segment we would be shown a list of the landscape characteristics;
  • -Rolling, locally steeply-undulating open, pasture separated by many small valleys.

  • -Heavy, poorly-drained soil supporting rushy pastures of low agricultural quality but high nature-conservation interest.

  • -Wide views across a remote landscape.

  • -Little tree cover except occasional wind-shaped hedgerow and farmstead trees, conifer blocks and valley woodlands.

  • Reading of such characteristic can help envisage a development that might make use of the landscape in the area to minimise its visual impact.

    Qualitative Visual Impact Assessment

    Visual Impact Assessment is thought by many to be a very subjective discipline, using modern 3D modeling it is possible to create scaled representations of proposed developments, so we can look at impacts before they are built. But in reality does this give a measured impact?

    Qualitative Visual Impact Assessment gives a good indication of negative impacts, but for large projects with far reaching implications a quantitative visual impact assessment is a better option.

    That being said under current legislative requirements a qualitative visual impact assessment is sufficient for planning applications.
    visual_impact_assessment_sketchup

    Quantitative Visual Impact Assessment

    Assessing Impact on a quantitative basis is accomplished using a ZTV (zone of theoretical visibility), and is present on a OS map base, zones on the map are presented as a % of the structure visible from that particular point.

    These factors and others will be assessed in the visual impact component of an environmental impact assessment.

    Please contact us if you have a need of visual impact assessments, or take a look at an example Visual Impact Assessment

    visual_impact_assesment

    What is Cumulative Visual Impact

    The  assessment  of  cumulative effects  is required  by  the EIA  Directive  (85/337/EEC,  as  amended  by  Directive 97/11/EC)  and the  UK EIA  Regulations 2011.   Cumulative effects  are defined  as  resulting  from  multiple  actions  on receptors  and  resources,  as  a  result  of  impacts  from  a single  project  or  in  combination  with  other developments.

    “additional changes to the landscape or visual amenity caused by  the proposed development in conjunction  with other developments (associated  with or separate to it), or actions that occurred in the past, present or are likely to  occur in the foreseeable future”

    As per Section 5.0, it was noted that there was a great many pylons of approximately 50 meters in height that run north south along high ground on both sides of the Allen Valley.

    There are numerous large livestock / grain storage sheds dispersed throughout the assessed area, these buildings are typically 6 to 7 meters in height, with some approaching 8 – 9 meters.

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