SNH Visual Representation of Wind Farms 2014


Until recently, all windfarm visualisations submitted in planning applications throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK were required to conform to Visual Representation of Windfarms Good Practice Guidance published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in 2006. This Guidance was also fully endorsed and supported by the Landscape Institute.


However, detailed research and empirical testing by The Highland Council and Architech found that the complex viewing methodology on which the SNH Guidance was based had no technical or scientific credibility and was the cause of widespread complaints of visual misrepresentation from local planning authorities, members of the public and professional Landscape Architects.


As a result, The Highland Council issued their illustrated Visualisation Standards for Wind Energy Developments in 2010 which were further updated in May 2013, March 2015 and July 2016.


In October 2011, the Minister for Energy and Tourism for Scotland challenged Scottish Natural Heritage, with Scottish Government assistance, to come up with an objective, verifiable, single approach to windfarm visualisation involving The Highland Council and Architech. Given the urgency of the situation, it was anticipated that the process would be completed within a period of 6 months.


Despite the fact that no such agreement was reached after a period of 38 months, SNH published their updated Visual Representation of Wind Farms in July 2014 which was further updated in December 2014 and endorsed by the Landscape Institute.


The Highland Council’s Visualisation Standards, which remain in place for all future windfarm planning applications within the Highland area, are now widely quoted throughout the UK.


My review of the new SNH Guidance and where we are today is now available and can be downloaded by following the instructions below.


Alan Macdonald RIBA

Architech Animation Studios (UK) Ltd.

October 2015




Review of SNH’s Visual Representation of Wind Farms 2014


To view the document correctly with its embedded links, please do the following:


  1. It is important to first save the PDF onto your computer's hard drive.
  2. Once the PDF is saved, double-click to open the document in Adobe Reader.


Download Here


The Landscape Institute's response to the above review:


Download Here


Landscape Institute Webinar


Visualisation: SNH Guidance on the visual representation of wind farms.


On the 21st January 2016, Brendan Turvey, Renewable Energy Policy and Advice Manager for Scottish Natural Heritage gave an introduction to the guidance published by SNH in 2014 which is now being applied throughout the UK. The Webinar was to inform those who were not able to attend SNH organised events which were limited to Scotland.


View Here   (please allow time for loading)


My response to the Landscape Institute Webinar:


Download Here



The Highland Council Visualisation Standards 2016


The Highland Council released their latest update of their Standards in July 2016.


Download Here



University of Stirling Study


The Executive Summary of The University of Stirling’s study The Effect of Focal Length on Perception of Scale and Depth in Landscape Photographs is available from The Highland Council.


Download Here


The Summary can be downloaded free and the full report can be purchased from The Highland Council for £60 plus carriage.



Pre-planning Public Consultation Exhibitions


It is now general practice for developers to demonstrate their proposals to members of the public using proprietary software using two computer screens. One screen illustrates the wireframe graphic with the turbines superimposed, and the other screen has a map of the area so that the potential visual impact from affected residences or viewpoints can be instantly demonstrated to members of the public.


However, wide angles of view from 50° to 90° are generally used which diminishes the perceived scale of the turbines. Please ensure that the angle of view slider in the software is set to 27° which is the horizontal field of view of a 75mm lens.





© Copyright Windfarm Visualisation 2016