Landscape Visual Impact

“The deployment of large-scale solar farms can have a negative impact on the rural environment, particularly in undulating landscapes. However, the visual impact of a well-planned and well-screened solar farm can be properly addressed within the landscape if planned sensitively...  with effective screening and appropriate land topography the area of a zone of visual influence could be zero”, MHCLG (2015) [17]. Although solar farms often cause changes to the landscape and whilst they may not be able to achieve a visual influence of zero, they should be minimised as far as possible. Benefits to the wider landscape should be sought and we would recommend the minimisation of impact by:

  • Every application should include a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment- they are key to identifying effects of the proposed development on views and on the landscape and allow for appropriate mitigation and enhancement opportunities to be included in proposals.
  • Maximising efficiency of the energy generating potential, considerate of latitude and aspect [18], and in turn minimising land area required, including consideration of solar tracking on panels.
  • Maintain diversity of landscapes, retain areas of undeveloped landscape, allow breaks of undeveloped landscapes when travelling through, conserve and enhance natural beauty, avoid landscapes designated for their natural beauty and sites of acknowledged/recognised ecological/archaeological importance/interest. This includes heritage assets wherein Planning Practice Guidance [19] states that “applicants should include analysis of the significance of the asset and its setting, and, where relevant, how this has informed the development of the proposals” and “early appraisals, a conservation plan or targeted specialist investigation can help to identify constraints and opportunities arising from the asset at an early stage. Such appraisals or investigations can identify alternative development options, for example more sensitive designs or different orientations, that will both conserve the heritage assets and deliver public benefits in a more sustainable and appropriate way.”
  • Screening and buffering e.g. with hedgerows of native species [20]. Reduction in habitat fragmentation through linking surrounding woodlands through the creation of green infrastructure and creation of wildlife corridors e.g. boundary hedgerows of native species and natural native habitats onsite. This should also complement guidance above in Principle 2- Bio-solar farms.

[17] MHCLG (2015) Planning practice guidance for renewable and low carbon energy

[18] MHCLG (2015) Planning practice guidance for renewable and low carbon energy

[19] Historic environment - GOV.UK (

[20] MHCLG (2015) Planning practice guidance for renewable and low carbon energy

Page updated: 27/06/2022

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