Garcrogo wind energy appeal: REFUSED

Reporter David Buylla|August 18, 2022
United Kingdom (UK)Impact on LandscapeImpact on ViewsLegal

This document details the reasons for why the proposed Garcrogo wind energy application was refused on appeal. The project was to consist of at least 9 turbines each standing 200 meters to blade tip. It would be situated at Garcrogo Hill and Barmark Hill, Corsock. The appeal was filed by the developer, Energiekontor UK Ltd, against the failure of Dumfries and Galloway Council to determine permission for the project within the statutory period. An excerpt of the decision is provided below which explains the Reporter's concern regarding the visual impact of 200 meter turbines on the region. The full decision can be downloaded at the document links on this page.

63. In accordance with best practice, the baseline against which landscape character effects were considered in the EIA report included other wind farms which are operational or under construction, but not those which are consented (but not as yet built) or those in planning. 

64. The EIA report predicts significant effects on the character of LCT 176 Foothills with Forest – Dumfries and Galloway and LCT 172 Upland Fringe - Dumfries & Galloway  (Corsock Fringe unit) out to a radius of approximately three kilometres. For LCT 160: Narrow Wooded River Valley – Dumfries and Galloway (Urr Water unit), such effects are predicted to extend to four kilometres and for LCT 175: Foothills - Dumfries & Galloway (Dalmacallan unit) to five kilometres. Beyond that distance, I agree that topography and tree cover would shelter the turbines sufficiently for landscape character effects to be reduced to below a significant level. 

65. It is virtually inevitable that introducing man-made development of significant scale into a rural environment will have a significant adverse effect on the character of the local landscape. Therefore, given the in-principle policy support for onshore wind energy development that is found in local and national policy, it would be unrealistic to expect a proposal such as this to avoid such harm altogether. 
66. However, this does not mean that such development must be supported at any cost. Looking at the extent of the adverse landscape character effect that this proposal is predicted to cause, particularly in terms of the distance from the site where such effects would be perceptible, I find this proposal would have a greater adverse effect that the number of proposed turbines might suggest. This is a consequence of the height of the proposed machines and the nature of the landscapes in question – which are not vast, empty upland moors, but medium-scale places (albeit dominated in the main by plantation forestry) that are close to smaller and more sensitive settled landscapes. This adverse landscape character effect is a negative aspect of the proposal that I must weigh in the planning balance when I draw together my conclusions on the proposal. 

67. The EIA report’s consideration of visual effects analysed 19 viewpoints. I visited each of these as well as other locations that the ZTV suggested might offer a potential view of the proposed development. At six of the viewpoints, the EIA report predicts a significant visual effect. These include: 

  • Viewpoint 2 - A712 near minor road to Blackcraig; 
  • Viewpoint 3 - Minor Road near Monybuie Burn Bridge; 
  • Viewpoint 4 - Minor road near Nether Glaisters; 
  • Viewpoint 5 - A712 near Caldow Bridge; 
  • Viewpoint 7 - Minor road near Black Burn; and 
  • Viewpoint 16 - A712, Drumhumphry Junction. 

68. I agree that there would be significant visual effects at these locations. I also predict a significant visual effect at Viewpoint 17 in New Galloway. There are other locations where the proposed development would also be clearly visible. For example, Viewpoint 1 on the minor road east of Loch Urr. I have taken these effects into account in my evaluation of the proposal. However, I have focussed in this notice on the effects that I believe would be significant, as it is these that have the greatest potential to influence the outcome of this appeal. 
69. As with landscape character effects, it is not surprising that a man-made development of this scale would, in certain views, become a prominent and incongruous feature. There is no policy requirement for development to be invisible or to have no significant adverse visual amenity effect. What is required is an assessment of whether any harm to visual amenity (along with any other harm the proposal might cause) is outweighed by the benefits it would deliver. This requires a more detailed consideration of the nature of the visual effect than simply a conclusion as to whether it would be significant. I have set this out below for each of the viewpoints where I believe significant visual effects would arise. 

70. Viewpoint 2 is on the A712 close to the junction with a minor road to Blackcraig, approximately three kilometres to the west of the nearest turbine. All nine proposed turbines would be seen prominently to below hub height. 

71. The EIA report’s finding of a significant visual effect was based upon receptors here being of medium sensitivity (it being a national speed limit road that does not appear to be used primarily by recreational users). In my view this underplays the level of receptor sensitivity, as the view is also representative of the quiet minor road to Blackcraig and of the residential property Blackcraig Bungalow that is close to the junction. The proposed turbines are also likely to be visible (albeit not down to hub height) from Bread and Beer Cottage on the A712, about 280 metres south east of the junction. Taking all of these factors into account, I would assign the viewpoint a high level of sensitivity



Decision Refusing Wind Energy Application 874685

August 19, 2022


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