Wind farms would be far more acceptable in rural settings if they were spatially designed for aesthetics as well as efficiency.
So many wind farms are just a clutter of turbines, stuck in green fields without any feel for the lie of the land. I love Bryn Titli in Radnorshire because it is sensitive to the land it sits on. It is so aesthetic it should have won the Turner Prize for art.
But Bryn Titli is an exception. The view inland from Aberystwyth has been ruined by a dreadful clutter of turbines. The unique heritage sites at Lyveden New Bield and Naseby in Northamptonshire are other examples where spatial aesthetics have been trashed in the dash for wind energy.
If wind farms were housing or industrial development, the spatial layout and aesthetic impact would be a significant factor in considering whether to grant planning permission. A single turbine, like a house, may be beautiful. But if it is just dumped insensitively in the landscape, it loses many of its qualities.
This is set to change. Part 7 of the National Planning Policy Framework says that good design is essential for a sustainable planning system. “Permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions.” This applies to wind farms just as much as it applies to housing.
So the message to wind farm developers is simple. Energy at the cost of design is not sustainable. You must stop ignoring landscape aesthetics. As of last Tuesday.
I would add that para. 97 of the NPPF states ‘cumulative landscape and visual impacts’ as a material consideration. Which would make the argument in the recent infamous Northamptonshire appeals by the same rouge inspector something of a nullity.