This paper was updated on the 29th July 2019.
Photomontages are the only means by which an informed judgment on the predicted impact of wind turbines can be made. For over two decades, the photomontages submitted in windfarm planning applications have been a contentious issue and the subject of widespread complaints regarding misleading visualisations.
Since 2006, visualisations throughout the UK which claimed to be ‘fair to all’ have been based on Guidance produced by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) which is endorsed by the Landscape Institute and the Landscape Institute Scotland.
Extensive field tests and comparisons between the original visualisations and the built reality undertaken by myself and Gordon Mooney of The Highland Council (THC) revealed that the ‘viewing distance methodology’ used by SNH to justify the misleading presentation format was seriously flawed and simply being used as a vehicle to diminish the predicted visual impact.
Regrettably, Professor Benson died in 2004 before the next part of the study could be completed and the University of Newcastle withdrew from the project. When SNH finally published the guidance two years later in 2006, his observation that a single frame image gave the best representation of reality was ignored.
Instead, SNH maintained the status quo by simply enlarging the panoramas to A1 width (equivalent to two A3 sheets placed side by side) claiming that this had been agreed with Professor Benson before his death, although they could not produce any written or recorded evidence to verify this.