Experts have concluded that photomontages of a proposed 78ft wind turbine at New Bewick, near Eglingham, are ‘technically flawed’ and ‘mislead the viewer’.
However, the agent for the applicant has hit out at the report, stating the comments ‘lack substance and accuracy’.
The report, commissioned by local opposition group SANE (Save Northumberland’s Environment) has been submitted to the county council.
SANE took the step to commission Architech to compile a report on the images submitted with the planning application following complaints from local people.
A SANE spokesman said: “Even we were surprised at the degree to which the applicant’s photomontages had failed to follow recognised best practice. The experts at Architech told us at one stage that the photomontages were ‘simply so bad’ that they needed more time than anticipated to try to present all the problems they had found.”
The report by Architech, who were appointed photomontage consultants to Highland Council in April this year, states: “The 11 panoramic visualisations presented to show the New Bewick turbine cannot provide any assessor with a realistic impression of the proposal, they are technically flawed, do not conform to any existing guidance and can only mislead the public, planners and decision makers alike.
“Overall, an impression is given of a single turbine which will be much smaller and much further away than it will appear in reality.”
It later adds: “The graphic representation of the turbine in the photomontages is poor and shows the structure as much less defined than it will be in reality.”
Architech also found the turbine was different in size between two photomontage which are meant to represent views from exactly the same distance.
The report concludes: “The visualisations presented by Southerngreen are unacceptable and highly misleading.”
It adds: “When full account is taken of all the deficiencies and technical problems with the visualisations, namely: the focal length, cropping of the images, the distortion in the panoramas, skewed horizons, turbine scaling, the use of screening and foreground clutter, unacceptably short viewing distances and the disregard of the most basic industry standards, the images presented misrepresent the proposal and mislead the viewer.”
Richard Garland, the agent for applicant Harehope Estates, told the Advertiser: “Firstly, it is disappointing that the relatively few objectors to this application feel the need to use the press to try to generate negative publicity rather than leaving the application to the capable decision of the planning system.
“Secondly, the application as submitted is accompanied by a huge amount of high quality studies and supporting information from experienced, specialist industry professionals.
“The landscape visual impact assessment (LVIA) submitted with the application was commissioned independently from a highly experienced consultancy. Not surprisingly, the other consultant, paid a lot of money by the objectors, has tried to pick up technical issues within the LVIA.
“Their counter-report uses a lot of technical language to appear disparaging on first glance. However, when the comments within the report are examined, they lack substance or accuracy with regard to the original data.”
Mr Garland added: “Fundamentally also, the counter-report does not disagree with the conclusion of the original LVIA report which states that the visual impact is within acceptable limits. This application proposes vital renewable energy for the region, at a scale designed to assimilate with the landscape and meet the local needs. Contrary to the vocal minority, the local feeling to the application is actually very positive.”
A county council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the issue that has been raised by the group about the quality of the photomontages, and have contacted the applicant about it.
“We are asking them to clarify the methodology used to ensure that it complied with good practice guidance.”
The application is due to be considered by the council’s central planning committee on December 6.
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