Wind farm developers have been accused of deceiving local councils and the public by using computer-generated images in planning applications that make the turbines seem smaller than they are in reality.
The claim is contained in a new book, Windfarm Visualisation: Perspective or Perception, by the architect Alan Macdonald, whose company, Architech, specialises in computer- generated images.
A separate study by the University of Stirling found serious flaws in the images that are presented as part of a visual impact assessment in the planning process.
Macdonald said the accepted practice was for a photograph of the landscape where the turbines are to be sited to be taken on a camera with a 50mm lens. This is then “stitched together” with other 50mm shots to create a long, shallow panorama on an A3 page.
But the human eye does not take in the whole panorama; it focuses on the middle section where the computer-generated images of turbines have been placed, giving the impression of a small development on a large landscape.
“A printed 50mm photographic image will always under-represent our perception of the scale of a more distant object because we are looking at a flat image devoid of any depth information,” Macdonald said.
The only way someone can get a realistic impression of what the turbines would really look like is to place the image on a curved display, with one eye closed.
The University of Stirling report also found the use of the industry-standard 50mm lens to be misleading.
However, RenewableUK, the wind energy industry body, said: “It is in developers’ interests to ensure that their visualisations are accurate.”
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