Developing and applying a GIS-assisted approach to evaluate visual impact in wind farms

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Wind energy represents one of the most important renewable resources. Wind energy is a clean, renewable and its benefits are considered greater than the disadvantages. However, even though wind farms represent environmentally friendly projects, they frequently generate public resistance. One of the main disadvantages of wind farm construction projects is their poor aesthetic integration into the landscape. On the other hand, landscape impact of wind farms could be minimised if the visual impact is previously evaluated. As regards with the European legislation, the procedure of environmental impact assessment study is necessary before a wind farm project could be established. In contrast, there is not an objective methodology to assess the visual impact of wind farms. The aim of this work was to develop a methodology to predict and evaluate, before its construction, the visual impact of wind farms, taking into account the visualscape from different observation points. Proposed methodology could help to determine and evaluate the best location for new wind farm projects. Moreover, this method could be used as a consulting tool for public organization and private institutions, being quick, concise and clear.
Received 6 November 2009 / Accepted 27 August 2010. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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