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How wind farm developers ‘use camera tricks to make turbines look smaller than they really are’

Developers are ‘tricking’ councils into giving wind farms planning permission by producing pictures which make turbines look smaller than they really are, a leading architect has claimed.

Alan MacDonald, an architect based in Inverness, Scotland, warned that people were being ‘misled’ because images submitted as part of planning applications were often little more than ‘artifice’.

He said that, in the most extreme cases, a turbine could be made to look four times smaller than it actually is.

His claims raise fears that councillors may approve developments which are far more imposing on the countryside than they expect.

Mr MacDonald, a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, said small changes to the size of the photograph, the angle at which it is taken, the zoom on the camera and how the image is presented could all make turbines appear smaller than they actually are.

‘Local people are being misled about the potential visual impact of such large structures,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.

More than 3,000 wind turbines have already been built on British land, but there are understood to be plans to construct another 5,000.

Mr MacDonald said developers commonly used a wide-angle lens and zoom out, providing a wider shot of the landscape.

But the wider the angle and the further away the zoom, the smaller the objects in the photograph will look.

Mr MacDonald’s concerns have been accepted in part by Scottish National Heritage (SNH), which is to review the guidance it provides to developers.

A Scottish National Heritage spokesman said: ‘We accept some, but not all, of Mr Macdonald’s concerns.

‘We don’t agree with the suggestion that developers have deliberately made turbines appear smaller.

‘In our view most developers have followed our current guidance, in good faith, and provided good quality visualisations.

‘Images are shrunk to make them fit on standard paper sizes. Everyone’s experience is evolving in this field and our aim is to improve the guidance to reduce the risk of under-representation in future.

‘We will be consulting on revised methodology in the next few months. This consultation will help determine what changes we will make to the guidance.’