A pioneering study controversially overlooked by borough planners when the Moorsyde wind farm decision was made has won a prestigious national award.
The Regional Windfarm Development Study, which was produced on behalf of the Assembly by White Consultants with Arup, won a highly commended award for strategic landscape planning in the Landscape Institute’s 2006 awards.
The study looked at the cumulative impact multiple wind farm developments in Northumberland would have on the area’s landscape and provided a method for doing this that can now be used across the country.
Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) highlighted the study in criticism of the borough council’s recommendation to approve the ten turbine wind farm between Shoresdean and Duddo.
A MAG spokesman said: “This study not only promotes understanding of the sensitivities in different types of landscape but also brings objectivity in assessing the impact of wind farms on peoples’ lives.”
It has already been acknowledged as a highly significant tool for local government partners in the region and this award brings national recognition to the North East Assembly for its work in this field.
Jo Boaden, chief executive of the North East Assembly said: “As the regional planning body, the Assembly has taken the initiative and responded, through this study, to concerns about the increasing visual impact which wind farms could have on the landscape.
“We now have a document, instigated and developed here in the north east, which will help planning authorities in other areas to make informed decisions about the ability of landscapes to support wind development.
“This award clearly shows that the North East Assembly is recognised as an important contributor to the renewable energy debate not just here in the region but nationally.”
Simon White from White Consultants with Arup said: “We are delighted to win a highly commended award in landscape planning for the North East Assembly.
“This demonstrates that you can only win an award with a supportive client, an excellent brief and a good team who work together in a positive way. This study not only promotes understanding of the sensitivities in different types of landscape but also brings objectivity in assessing the impact of wind farms on peoples’ lives.”
The Landscape Institute judges commented: “Landscape and visual effects are recognised as one of the most important issues in wind farm development.
“Now that there is a significant increase in proposals to meet renewable energy targets, it is essential that the profession develops tools to properly assess these effects to maintain a key role in managing change and avoiding the worst effects on sensitive landscapes.
“The public are divided in their opinions on wind turbines. This study helps to promote understanding on both sides as to the sensitivity of different types of landscape and to bring objectivity to assessing the effects on people.”
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