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Visual Impact Assessment of Wind Farms in South Australia
Andrew Lothian, Environmental Policy Solutions, Australia
The purpose of this paper is to describe a survey, based on community preferences, of the likely visual impact of wind farms in South Australia, based on which a predictive model is developed. It also assesses the influence on visual impact of the distance, number, and colour of turbines.

The paper examines the rapid increase in wind farm development in Australia and opposition to them in several countries, particularly the UK, and in Victoria. It describes landscape quality as a vital community environmental resource and examines the deficiencies of expert measurement of visual impacts.

The study is based on the science of psychophysics which measures the effect of stimuli on the brain. The use of photographs as a surrogate for field assessments is addressed and their selection and preparation with wind farm photomontages is described.

Analyses were undertaken of coastal and inland scenes and predictive models derived for each. Inland scenes rated lower than coastal scenes because of the absence of water. While wind farms diminished landscape quality of coastal scenes, they actually improved it for some inland scenes.

To obtain the landscape quality rating of a given area, reference is made to the author's map of landscape quality for South Australia, to benchmark scenes, and to a generic description of each landscape rating.

 
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