15. Seascape, Landscape and Visual

15.1. Introduction

  1. This chapter of the Offshore Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA Report) presents the assessment of the likely significant effects of the Berwick Bank Wind Farm offshore infrastructure (hereafter referred to as “the Proposed Development”) on seascape, landscape and visual receptors. Specifically, this seascape, landscape and visual impact assessment (SLVIA) chapter considers both the potential impact of the Proposed Development seaward of Mean High Water Springs (MHWS) and onshore receptors landward of Mean Low Water Springs (MLWS) during the construction, operation and maintenance, and decommissioning phases.
  2. The offshore topic of the SLVIA study area includes the intertidal area. This intertidal area overlaps with the onshore topic of the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) (landward of MHWS).
  3. The assessment presented is informed by the following technical chapters:
  1. A full methodology for the SLVIA is presented in Appendix 15.1: SLVIA Methodology.
  2. The SLVIA is also supported by plan graphics in Appendix 15.2 (Figure 15.1 to Figure 15.20) and visual representations (photomontages) as shown in Appendix 15.2 (Figure 15.21 to Figure 15.75).

15.2. Purpose of this Chapter

  1. The primary purpose of the Offshore EIA Report is outlined in Chapter 1. It is intended that the Offshore EIA Report will provide the Scottish Ministers, statutory and non-statutory stakeholders with sufficient information to determine the likely significant effects of the Proposed Development on the receiving environment.
  2. In particular, this SLVIA EIA Report chapter:
  • Presents the existing environmental baseline established from desk studies, site-specific surveys and consultation with stakeholders;
  • Identifies any assumptions and limitations encountered in compiling the environmental information;
  • Presents the likely significant environmental effects on seascape, landscape and visual resources arising from the Proposed Development, based on the information gathered and the analysis and assessments undertaken; and
  • Highlights any necessary mitigation measures which are recommended to prevent, minimise, reduce or offset the possible environmental effects of the Proposed Development on seascape, landscape and visual receptors.

15.3. Study Area

  1. The Proposed Development is located offshore in the outer Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay, approximately 37.8 km east of the Scottish Borders coastline (St Abb’s Head), 44.8 km from the East Lothian coastline (Torness Point), 40.3 km from the Angus coastline (Prail Castle) and 40.9 km from the Fife coastline (Fife Ness). Broadly, the SLVIA study area is formed by the outer Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay, and the Aberdeenshire, Angus, East Lothian, Scottish Borders and Northumberland coastline between Stonehaven in the north and Bamburgh in the south.
  2. The spatial scope of the SLVIA study area is defined as 60 km from the Proposed Development Array Area as shown in Figure 15.2 with the indicative Proposed Development wind turbine layout. This distance represents the outer limit beyond which significant seascape, landscape and visual effects are unlikely, based on professional judgement, guidance, consultations with relevant stakeholders and review of potential impact pathways using the Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV) (Figure 15.6) and Met Office visibility data (Table 15.7).
  3. Seascape, landscape and visual effects of the Proposed Development outside the 60 km radius SLVIA study area are scoped out of the SLVIA as they are unlikely to be significant. This is supported by Met Office visibility data, which has no visibility recordings beyond 60 km ( Table 15.7   Open ▸ ) and agreement with NatureScot, which regards a 60km study area as appropriate for the Proposed Development ( Table 15.4   Open ▸ ).

15.4. Policy and Legislative Context

  1. Policy and legislation on renewable energy infrastructure is presented in Chapter 2 of the Offshore EIA Report. Policy and legislation specifically in relation to seascape, landscape and visual amenity, is contained in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949), The Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009), Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the UK Marine Planning Policy Statement (MPS) (2011). Further relevant legislation is contained within EN-1 Overarching NPS for Energy, and EN-3 National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure.
  2. Relevant local planning policies are contained within Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2017, East Lothian Local Development Plan 2018, Fife Local Development Plan 2017, Scottish Borders Local Development Plan 2016 and the Northumberland Draft Local Plan 2019.
  3. A summary of the legislative provisions relevant to seascape, landscape and visual receptors is provided in Table 15.1   Open ▸ below, with other relevant policy provisions set out in Table 15.2   Open ▸ and Table 15.3   Open ▸ .
  4. All the policy and legislation provided in Table 15.1   Open ▸ and Table 15.2   Open ▸ is also relevant to the intertidal area.
Table 15.1:
Summary of Legislation Relevant to Seascape, Landscape and Visual Receptors

Table 15.1: Summary of Legislation Relevant to Seascape, Landscape and Visual Receptors


Table 15.2:
Summary of National Planning Policy Relevant to Seascape Receptors

Table 15.2: Summary of National Planning Policy Relevant to Seascape Receptors


Table 15.3:
Summary of Local Planning Policy Relevant to Seascape, Landscape and Visual Receptors

Table 15.3  Summary of Local Planning Policy Relevant to Seascape, Landscape and Visual Receptors

15.5. Consultation

  1. A summary of the key issues raised during consultation activities undertaken to date, specific to seascape, landscape and visual matters is presented in Table 15.4   Open ▸ below, together with how these issues have been considered in the production of this SLVIA EIA Report chapter. Further information about stakeholder engagement is presented within volume 1, chapter 5.
Table 15.4:
Summary of Key Consultation Issues Raised During Consultation Activities Undertaken for the Proposed Development Relevant to Seascape, Landscape and Visual Receptors

Table 15.4: Summary of Key Consultation Issues Raised During Consultation Activities Undertaken for the Proposed Development Relevant to Seascape, Landscape and Visual Receptors

15.6. Methodology to Inform Baseline

15.6.1.              Overview

  1. Baseline data collection has been undertaken to obtain information over the SLVIA study area described in Section 15.3. The current baseline conditions presented in Section 1.15.7 set out currently available information from the SLVIA study area.

15.6.2.              Desktop Study

  1. Information on seascape, landscape and visual receptors within the SLVIA study area was collected through a detailed desktop review of existing studies and datasets. These are summarised in Table 15.5   Open ▸ below.
Table 15.5:
Summary of Key Desktop Reports

Table 15.5: Summary of Key Desktop Reports

15.6.3.              Identification of Designated Sites

  1. All designated sites within the SLVIA study area and qualifying interest features that could be affected by the construction, operation and maintenance, and decommissioning phases of the Proposed Development were identified using the three-step process described below:
  • Step 1: All designated sites of international, national and local importance within the SLVIA study area were identified using a number of sources. These sources included GIS datasets and Local Development Plans (listed in Table 15.5   Open ▸ );
  • Step 2: Information was compiled on the relevant special qualities for each of these sites as follows in Table 15.11   Open ▸ .
  • Step 3: Using the above information and expert judgement, sites were included for further consideration if:

      located either wholly, or partially, within the ZTV;

      likely to have actual visibility of the Proposed Development, taking account of the proportion of the designated area within the ZTV and the intervening distance between it and the Proposed development but not taking account of weather and/or atmospheric effects as indicated by Met office visibility data; and

      there is potential for significant effects associated with the Proposed Development resulting from the above factors, and the potential magnitude of change and sensitivity of the receptor, with preliminary assessment undertaken for all designated sites and detailed assessment undertaken for those identified as having potential for significant effects.

15.6.4.              Site-Specific Surveys

  1. The SLVIA undertaken as part of the preparation of the EIA Report has been informed by desk-based studies and field survey work undertaken within the SLVIA study area. The seascape baseline has been informed by desk-based review of landscape and seascape character assessments, and the ZTV, to identify receptors that may be affected by the Proposed Development and produce written descriptions of their key characteristics and value.
  2. Interactions have been identified between the Proposed Development and seascape, landscape and visual receptors, to predict potentially significant effects arising and measures are proposed to mitigate effects.
  3. For those receptors where a detailed assessment is required, primary data acquisition has been undertaken through a series of surveys. These surveys include field survey verification of the ZTV from terrestrial landscape character areas (LCAs), micro-siting of viewpoint locations, panoramic baseline photography and visual assessment survey from all representative viewpoints. The viewpoint photography, visual assessment and landscape assessment surveys were undertaken during October, November and December 2021; and January 2022 as described in Table 15.6   Open ▸ . Sea-based offshore surveys have not been undertaken as part of the SLVIA as the land-based survey from the coast was sufficient to verify the ZTV, undertake viewpoint photography and perform the visual and landscape assessment surveys. Field work over the duration of the EIA has been partly restricted due to restricted access to certain visitor locations due to closures and limited accommodation availability.
  4. To inform the SLVIA EIA Report chapter, site-specific surveys were undertaken, including viewpoints agreed with NatureScot, East Lothian Council, and Scottish Borders Council (as described in Table 15.4   Open ▸ ). A summary of the surveys undertaken to inform the SLVIA are outlined in Table 15.6   Open ▸ below.
Table 15.6:
Summary of Site-Specific Survey Data

Table 15.6: Summary of Site-Specific Survey Data

15.7. Baseline Environment

15.7.1.              Introduction

  1. An overview of the current baseline conditions for seascape, landscape and visual amenity is outlined in this section and then subsequently described in further detail within each of the main receptors in the assessment in Section 15.11.
  2. The baseline provides a ‘description of the relevant aspects of the current state of the environment (baseline scenario)’ as required by the EIA Regulations. The ‘relevant aspects’ for seascape, landscape and visual are considered to be those that may be changed by the Proposed Development, either through physical effects or visibility/views of the Proposed Development.
  3. In line with GLVIA3 (Landscape Institute, 2013), the baseline therefore ‘establishes the area in which the development may be visible’ in order to define the relevant aspects of the current seascape, landscape and visual environment of the SLVIA Study Area.

15.7.2.              Visual Baseline – Views and Visual Amenity


  1. The baseline visual resource experienced from the Scottish coastline within the SLVIA study area is diverse. It ranges from the remote high cliffs at St Abbs and nearby landscape features such as North Berwick Law, which afford elevated and distant views; to the rocky but more settled coastlines of East Lothian and Fife; and the lower lying deposition coasts of Fife, which retain open sea views but are less elevated; and the outer Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay, which have land to land views across the Firths.
  2. From the remote high cliffs at St Abbs, there are wide elevated views directed along the coast and out to open sea, where there are exhilarating and awe-inspiring coastlines due to the height of cliffs giving elevated and distant views. From the rocky coastlines of East Lothian and Fife the views over the North Sea are generally wide and open, but settlements and built features often appear at regular intervals providing foci along the coast, and shipping is a common feature seen out to sea. From the deposition coasts of Fife, which are low lying, views are long and expansive along sandy beaches and extend out to the North Sea. The outer Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay have land to land views across the Firths, while also retaining open views east out to sea. Views from the outer Firths often focus on distinctive islands (such as Bass Rock/Isle of May), and land on either side of the Firths is a focus, with settlements, and often masts and other infrastructure located on ridges, forming significant features in views.
  3. An initial understanding of the baseline visual resource of the Northumberland coast is provided in the Seascape Character Assessment for the North-East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plan Areas (MMO, 2018), which describes the ‘Expansive undeveloped vistas out to the wider North Sea and islands, marked by distant ships and fishing vessels, as well as views from the sea and islands (recreational boat routes) back to the coast where the fortified castles form dramatic and iconic features on the skyline. Scenic views gained along, the undeveloped Heritage Coast’. It also identifies the ‘High levels of intervisibility between inland high points, such as Halidon Hill or Ros Castle, low-lying sandy beaches (Goswick Sands and Budle Bay) and the Farne Islands offshore’.
  4. The Berwick Bank seascape (MCA26) in which the Proposed Development is located covers an expansive offshore area of water located off the coast of Northumberland, where the visual baseline is described as being influenced by shipping activity (although less so than seascapes to the south), where the Northumberland coast ‘is visible from the westernmost parts of the MCA, with coastal landmarks providing orientation for seafarers’ and forming ‘part of the wider maritime setting to the Northumberland Coast AONB and North Northumberland Heritage Coast’ (MMO. 2018).
  5. The Proposed Development represents the next phase of wind farm development within the outer Firth of Forth, with the first phase formed by the under construction Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen 1 offshore wind farms, which introduce offshore wind farm development to the baseline seascape and visual context to the west, north-west and north of the Proposed Development, and are situated between the Proposed Development array area and the coastline. 

Blade Tip ZTV

  1. The visual baseline is largely defined by the ZTV shown in Figure 15.6 The ZTV shows the main area in which the Proposed Development would theoretically be visible, highlighting the locations where different groups of people who may experience views of wind turbines located within the Proposed Development Array Area and assisting in the identification of viewpoints where they may be affected. The ZTVs shown in Figure 15.5 to Figure 15.13 are based on wind turbines of 355 m to blade tip (above LAT) and represents the Maximum Design Scenario (MDS) for the SLVIA. The blade tip ZTV illustrates where there would be no visibility of these wind turbines, as well as areas where there will be lower or higher numbers of wind turbines theoretically visible.
  2. The ZTV illustrates the ‘bare ground’ situation based on an Ordnance Survey (OS) terrain model and does not take into account the screening effects of vegetation, buildings, or other local features that may prevent or reduce visibility. By using a bare ground elevation model, the results will be an over-representation of maximum visibility, as many could, in reality, be blocked by surface features not included in the model.
  3. The blade tip ZTV shows the areas of highest theoretical visibility of the Proposed Development will be from the North Sea within the Proposed Development Array Area and from the surrounding areas of the North Sea extending out to approximately 45-50 km, beyond which visibility experienced by users of the sea decreases with the influence of the earth’s curvature, which reduces visibility of the wind turbines at longer distances and from the low-lying seascape.
  4. The blade tip ZTV also illustrates the main coastal landscapes of the SLVIA where there is theoretical visibility of the Proposed Development. These areas of visibility have the potential to extend over relatively wide terrestrial areas extending from Aberdeenshire in the north to Northumberland in the south, along the coastlines of the outer Firth Forth and Firth of Tay, with the closest areas of visibility from terrestrial areas being:
  • Aberdeenshire coastline between Stonehaven and St Cyrus, at distances from 40.1 km at the closest point (Milton Head near Johnshaven);
  • Angus coastline between Montrose Bay, Lunan Bay, Arbroath, Carnoustie, Budden Ness, and the outer Firth of Tay at distances from 34.1 km at the closest point (near Red Head);
  • Fife coast between Tentsmuir, Fife Ness and St Monan’s at distances from 36.6 km at the closest point (Fife Ness);
  • East Lothian coastline between North Berwick, Dunbar and Torness at distances from 42.7 km at the closest point (where East Lothian meets Scottish Borders near Cove);
  • Scottish Borders from Cockburnspath extending along the elevated cliffs between Cove / Pease Bay to St Abbs Head and Eyemouth at distances of 33.3 km at the closest point at St Abbs Head; and
  • Northumberland coast between Berwick-upon-Tweed, Holy Island and Seahouses on the southern edge of the SLVIA study area, at distances from 38.5 km at the closest point near Lamberton.
  1. The area of theoretical visibility of the Proposed Development becomes more fragmented from the hinterland and inland areas of the SLVIA study area, where views of the sea become increasingly screened either by adjacent rising land or coastal landforms. Theoretical visibility does extend into some of the more elevated coastal farmlands of Aberdeenshire, Angus and Fife, and parts of the East Lothian coastal plain. Actual visibility from these hinterland and inland areas also becomes increasingly screened by vegetation, such as woodland and hedgerows, and / or built development and settlement. Visibility from streets, open spaces and low storey buildings within coastal, urban areas will typically be contained within the urban environment by surrounding built form, with most visibility of the Proposed Development likely to be greatest at the coastal edge and sea front. There are a number of elevated landscapes affording very distant views of the sea from inland areas of the SLVIA study area, generally at much longer distances of 50 km to 60 km from the Proposed Development, including the Mounth uplands of Aberdeenshire; the Lammermuir Hills of East Lothian and the Scottish Borders; and the Kyloe Hills of Northumberland.

Visual Receptors

  1. The principal visual receptors in the SLVIA study area are likely to be found along the closest sections of the Aberdeenshire, Angus, Fife, East Lothian, Scottish Borders and Northumberland coastlines. These include people within settlements, driving on roads, visitors to tourist facilities or historic environment assets, and people engaged in recreational activity such as those using walking and cycle routes, including:
  • coastal settlements – including Montrose, Arbroath, St Andrews, St Abbs, settlements around the East Neuk of Fife, North Berwick, Dunbar, Cockburnspath, Coldingham, Eyemouth, Burnmouth and Berwick-Upon-Tweed;
  • recreational routes - including walkers, equestrians and cyclists using the public rights of way network including long-distance trails such as the Fife Coastal Path, John Muir Way, Southern Upland Way, Berwickshire Coastal Path, Northumberland Coast Path as well as National Cycle Network (NCN) Routes 1 and 76;
  • main transport routes - such as the A92, A917, A1, A1107 and the East Coast Mainline railway (ECML);
  • visitors to tourist facilities - such as beaches, public open space, common land, coastal caravan and camping sites;
  • visitors to historic environment assets - such as Dunnottar Castle, Tantallon Castle, Fast Castle, Lindisfarne Castle, Bamburgh Castle and Holy Island;
  • links golf courses on the study area coastline, including Stonehaven, Montrose, Arbroath, St Andrews, Kings Barns, Crail, Carnoustie, Archerfield, Winterfield, Eyemouth, Magdalene Fields, Goswick and Bamburgh Castle; and
  • nearshore recreational receptors – including motor cruising areas extending to the east towards the Proposed Development Array Area, as well as day boat trips to offshore islands such as the Isle of May and Bass Rock, and other recreation activities, such as kayaking and surfing that can be undertaken along the coast.


  1. Atmospheric conditions will affect visibility and therefore the ability of observers to see the Proposed Development from areas where theoretical visibility is indicated in the ZTV. A range of visibility conditions prevail in the SLVIA study area, at different locations, times of day/year and in different weather, ranging from the ‘Windswept coast with frequent ‘haar’, or coastal fog, caused by warmer moist air moving over the relatively cooler North Sea’ noted in MMO (2018) to the ‘northern quality of light often gives intense clarity in views’ described in NatureScot 2005.
  2. Whilst ZTV mapping can model the theoretical visibility of the Proposed Development, it is important to note that atmospheric conditions will affect visibility. The Met Office defines visibility as ‘the greatest distance at which an object can be seen and recognised in daylight, or at night could be seen if the general illumination were raised to a daylight level’ (Met Office, 2000).
  3. A quantitative description of the existing visibility is provided using METAR visibility data from the closest Met Office weather station at Inverbervie, to highlight potential trends in the visibility conditions of the Study Area. This ‘visibility data’ shows a 10-year average of the frequency of observations at measured distances from the station between January 2011 to December 2021.
  4. Visibility range and frequency is mapped in Figure 15.13, in the context of the wind farm array area site using visibility ranges based on Met Office visibility definitions: < 1 km Very Poor; 1 – 4 km Poor; 4 -10 km Moderate; 10 – 20 km Good; 20 – 40 km Very Good; 40 km > Excellent. The visibility range is shown in bands extending from the wind farm array area and is combined with the ZTV of the Proposed Development to show the likely frequency of visibility at difference distances, as shown in Table 15.7   Open ▸ .
Table 15.7:
Frequency of Visibility at Different Distance Ranges as a Percentage

Table 15.7: Frequency of Visibility at Different Distance Ranges as a Percentage

  1. Although there are limitations to how this data can be applied to judgements about windfarm visibility, the visibility data provides context for an evidence basis for evaluating the visibility of the Proposed Development in the prevailing conditions.
  2. The visibility of the Proposed Development that will be experienced by people will be influenced substantially by the prevailing weather and visibility conditions in the area. The visibility frequency data presented Table 15.7   Open ▸ provides an understanding about the amount of time when visibility is experienced at the distances required to see the Proposed Development and Figure 15.13 relates this visibility data to the geographic extent of the SLVIA Study Area.
  3. The viewpoints included in the SLVIA range from 38.2 km to 60.1 km from the Proposed Development. The closest parts of the Angus, Fife and the Scottish Borders coastlines fall within 30-40 km of the Proposed Development. The Met Office data shows that visibility over 30 km occurs for approximately 44% of the time over the 10-year period. This equates to approximately 160 days per year on average when there is visibility beyond 30 km and when there may theoretically be visibility of the Proposed Development at this distance range.
  4. With increasing distance, the Met Office data shows that visibility frequency drops sharply for excellent visibility at longer distances, such that:
  • ‘Excellent’ visibility of 40 - 50 km occurred for only approximately 18% of the time over the 10-year period. This would equate to approximately 65 days per year on average that there is visibility at 40 - 50 km range.
  • ‘Excellent’ visibility of 50 - 60 km occurred for only approximately 11% of the time over the 10-year period. This would equate to approximately 39 days per year on average that there is visibility at 50 - 60 km range.
  • There were no visibility recordings beyond 60 km in range.
  1. The Met Office visibility data allows some quantification of the likely frequency of visibility of the Proposed Development from individual viewpoints, based on the distance of each viewpoint location. The Met Office visibility frequency data is used to inform an assessment of the ‘likelihood of effect’ from each viewpoint in Section 15.11, to qualify any significant effects assessed in optimum visibility conditions with how likely they are to actually occur given the prevailing weather/ visibility conditions.
  2. Data analysed (OESEA, 2020) on patterns of seasonal variations on visibility illustrate a clear pattern within the visual ranges on a monthly basis. The summer months (June–September) experience a much larger ‘maximum percentage’ visual range in comparison to the winter months (November–February) which experience a much lower visual range. It is likely that more people will be viewing the seascape in the summer, and for more prolonged periods, due to holidays and weekend trips, and more equable weather conditions. There is a case that this should be weighted in consideration of frequency of visibility.


  1. Viewpoints have been compiled based on the ZTV for the Proposed Development, the landscape and visual receptors described above and informed by other projects and feedback from stakeholders contained in the Berwick Bank Scoping Opinion (Marine Scotland, March 2021) with regard to the 2020 Berwick Bank Scoping Report and subsequent consultation. In particular, Appendix I to the Scoping Opinion (Marine Scotland, 2021), including Consultation Representations and Advice from NatureScot, East Lothian Council, Scottish Borders Council and Northumberland County Council relating specifically to viewpoint locations for the SLVIA.
  2. Representative and illustrative viewpoints agreed for the visual assessment are identified in Table 15.8   Open ▸ and mapped in Figure 15.5 to Figure 15.13
  • Representative viewpoints – are selected to represent the experience of different types of visual receptor within an area where larger numbers of viewpoints cannot all be included. A combination of baseline panorama, cumulative wireline and full photomontage visualisations have been produced. Detailed assessment of the visual effects from these viewpoints that may experience significant visual effects is undertaken in the SLVIA, while others have been scoped out during the preliminary assessment, if no potential for significant effects is identified; and
  • Illustrative viewpoints – are chosen specifically to demonstrate a particular effect or specific issue (including restricted visibility). A baseline panorama and wireline visualisation (90 degrees field of view) will be produced, but a written assessment of the visual effects from these viewpoints will not be included in the SLVIA.
Table 15.8:
Viewpoints included in the SLVIA

Table 15.8: Viewpoints included in the SLVIA

  1. The existing view and sensitivity to change for each of the above viewpoints is described in Section 15.11. Baseline photographic panoramas showing the existing view from each viewpoint are shown in Figure 15.21 to Figure 15.75

Dark Skies and Night-time Lighting

  1. The baseline lighting conditions across the SLVIA study area vary considerably and there is no single data source that serves to provide a detailed or quantitative evidence base of the existing night-time lighting levels. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has produced interactive maps of the UK's light pollution and dark skies as part of a national mapping project (LUC/CPRE, 2016). The maps are divided into pixels, 400 metres x 400 metres, to show the amount of light shining up into the night sky from that area. This is measured by the satellite in nanowatts, which is then used to create a measure of night-time brightness. These have been categorised into colour bands to distinguish between different light levels. The maps do not show what the view of the night sky would be from the ground.
  2. The baseline lighting conditions quantified by CPRE are shown on Figure 15.14 The CPRE data shows that the coastal urbanised areas of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Eyemouth, Dunbar and North Berwick are the brightest light sources. Torness Power Station also appears as a contained but notable source of light along the coastal edge. Light sources strung out along the A1 join up the settlements along the East Lothian, Scottish Borders, and Northumberland coast. The relatively dark parts of East Lothian, Scottish Borders and Northumberland are located inland, across more sparsely settled landscapes, and elevated moorlands and hills on the western fringes of the study area.
  3. Across Fife, within the study area, there is a more even level of existing night-time lighting. St. Andrews, Leuchars and Newport on Tay are the brightest sources. The coastal settlements of Elie, St. Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther and Crail are notable sources of light strung along the southern coastline of the East Neuk of Fife. Areas of relative darkness are contained to the more sparsely settled agricultural landscape and low uplands that lie broadly to the south of the A915.
  4. Within Angus, the urbanised area of Dundee has the greatest light influence, which extends outwards across its suburban context and surrounding landscape. The south-eastern coastline is influenced by a combination of light from Dundee, Carnoustie, Arbroath, and Montrose, leaving a very contained area of relative darkness around parts of Lunan Bay. Further inland, there are some contained areas of relative darkness around Montreathmont Moor and within sparsely settled upland areas; although further west there is a transition to areas influenced by light sources from the settlements strung out along the A90 including Forfar, Brechin, and Laurencekirk. Further north along the Angus coast, settlements are more widely distributed with notable sources of light arising from Inverbervie and Stonehaven, with some areas of relative darkness between these urban areas.

15.7.3.              Wind Energy Baseline

  1. In accordance with GLVIA3 (Landscape Institute, 2013) (para 7.13), existing offshore and onshore wind farms and those which are under construction are included in the baseline for both landscape and visual effects assessments. These projects are shown in Figure 15.16 and Table 15.42   Open ▸ .
  2. Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm is under construction offshore as of August 2020 and is expected to be operational in 2023. Seagreen 1 offshore wind farm (Seagreen 1) is under construction offshore and is also expected to be operational in 2023. As they are both currently under-construction and expected to be operational before the Proposed Development starts construction offshore, in accordance with GLVIA3, both Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen 1 are assumed to be part of the baseline i.e., they are assumed to be operational for the purposes of the SLVIA.
  3. A screening request has been submitted for a s36C variation to Seagreen 1 (SWEL, 2022) (‘Seagreen 1 variation’) to increase the wind turbine parameters of 36 wind turbines which have not yet been constructed. Seagreen 1 variation (Figure 15.16) is considered as part of the cumulative effects assessment in Section 15.12 and does not form part of the baseline. Only the 114 under-construction Seagreen 1 wind turbines (herein referred to as ‘Seagreen 1’) are assumed to form part of the baseline in this SLVIA.
  4. The baseline photographs shown in Figures 15.21 – 15.48 (Appendix 15.2) were taken prior to the completion of construction of Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen 1, therefore the Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen 1 wind turbines and their aviation lights have been added (i.e., photomontaged) into the baseline photographs to visually represent their appearance as part of the baseline. The theoretical extent of visibility of Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen 1 in the baseline is shown in the ZTVs in Figure 15.17 and Figure 15.18 Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen 1 will introduce offshore wind farm development to the baseline seascape context to the north and west of the Proposed Development (Figure 15.16) and are often situated between the Proposed Development array area and the coastline.  
  5. Neart na Gaoithe is located approximately 15.5km east of Fife Ness and 29 km from the East Lothian coast at Thorntonloch. Neart na Gaoithe was assessed as resulting in moderate (significant) effects on coastal character from east Fife (Neart na Gaoithe Offshore Wind, 2018), particularly between St Andrew’s to Fife Ness (SA12 and LLA) and the east Neuk of Fife (SA13 and LLA), where Neart na Gaoithe impacts the characteristic relationship between the coasts, sea and islands in the Forth (including the Forth Island LLA). At night, wind turbine lighting was assessed as likely to alter the character of darker coastal landscapes and give rise to moderate (significant) effects on coastal character in eastern Fife (SA12 and SA13). Major effects on visual amenity were assessed within 22km and up to moderate effects within 35 km (Neart na Gaoithe Offshore Wind, 2018), with significant effects identified on high sensitivity viewers at the coastal edge. The most distant significant effects were identified where Neart na Gaoithe would be seen in the context of existing focal points in the view, such as inshore islands and the Bass Rock. Significant effects on views at night resulting from the Neart na Gaoithe aviation lighting were also identified from high-sensitivity coastal locations at up to 30 km, beyond which, the lights were assessed as becoming increasingly distant point sources and were not predicted to be particularly noticeable features.  
  6. Seagreen 1 is located approximately 27 km from the closest part of the Angus coastline (Long Craig, near Montrose). Seagreen 1 was assessed as resulting in some visual effects upon the seascape neighbouring the Angus coastline (SWEL, 2018), including significant (major-moderate) effects on visual amenity at two viewpoints from St Cyrus and Braehead of Lunan, however the assessment identified no significant effects on coastal character as a result of Seagreen 1, and effects were assessed as generally limited by the distance that Seagreen 1 is located away from the nearest coastline, its siting within a clearly defined offshore environment, the horizontal linearity, flatness and openness of the seascape, and the levels of visibility at such distances. Night time lighting of the WTGs for navigation and aviation was not anticipated to be visible from land (SWEL, 2018), however this finding is not substantiated by current understanding of the visibility of offshore wind far aviation lighting at comparable distances and the Seagreen 1 aviation lights are expected to be visible from the closest sections of the Angus and Aberdeenshire coastlines, although are not expected to be visible at longer distances from Fife and East Lothian.

15.7.4.              Coastal Character


  1. The Proposed Development array area covers an offshore area of 1,010 km2 located within the North Sea, approximately 33.3 km from the closest section of the mainland Scottish coastline at St Abb’s Head (Figure 15.3). Broadly, the SLVIA Study Area is formed by the North Sea, the east coast of Scotland and north-east coast of England (Northumberland), consisting of a variety of seascapes of remote high cliffs, rocky coasts, deposition coastlines of sandy beaches/dunes and the inner and outer Firth of Tay and Forth.
  2. The seascapes of the SLVIA study area are varied and interesting seascapes, which are valued natural and cultural assets. They contain important habitats, contribute to the setting of locally designated coastal landscapes; are important for recreation along the coast and as seaside resorts; and contribute to the culture and identity of local communities. The seascape is visually unified, with an expansive open character, but the character is influenced by the presence of vessels crossing these waters, to and from coastal ports within the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay, which are often visible from the shore.

Seascape / Coastal / Landscape Character Approach

  1. The Marine Policy Statement (MPS) (UK Government, 2011) states “references to seascape should be taken as meaning landscapes with views of the coast or seas, and coasts and the adjacent marine environment with cultural, historical and archaeological links with each other”.
  2. In England, seascape characterisation includes both the sea surface and what lies below the waterline, however in Scotland, ‘the focus is on the coast and its interaction with the sea and hinterland, relationships that are quite distinctive in the Scottish context’ (NatureScot, 2018).
  3. Given the definition in the MPS and the NatureScot coastal character assessment guidance, the assessment of seascape character effects in this SLVIA focuses on areas of onshore landscape with views of the coast or seas/marine environment, in other words the ‘coastal character’, on the premise that the most important effect of offshore wind farms is on the perception of the character of the coast. Receptors at sea have been scoped out of the SLVIA as, due to the open nature of views from open sea, consideration of receptors along the coastline are considered appropriate for the purposes of the SLVIA.
  4. Coastal character is the ‘distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements on the coast, land and sea that makes one part of the coast different from another’ (NatureScot, 2018) and is made up of the margin of the coastal edge, its immediate hinterland and areas of sea.
  5. The extent of the coast is principally influenced by the dominance of the sea in terms of physical characteristics, views and experience. The landward extent of the coast can be narrow where edged by cliffs or settlement; or broad where it includes raised beaches, dunes or more open coastal pasture or machair. The major determinant in defining the landward and seaward components of the coast is the sea - the key characteristic.
  6. Regional Coastal Character Areas (CCAs) are appropriate for the assessment of effects on coastal character. The coastal character of the SLVIA study area within Scotland is defined at the regional level within the Regional Seascape Character Assessment Aberdeen to Holy Island (Forth and Tay Offshore Windfarm Developer Group, 2011).
  7. The Regional Seascape Character Areas defined in the Forth and Tay Offshore Wind Developers Group Seascape Character Assessment are considered to equate to Regional CCAs as defined in the subsequent NatureScot Coastal Character Assessment Guidance (NatureScot, 2018) i.e., recognisable geographical areas with a consistent overall character at a strategic scale. Regional CCAs are shown as a simple colour line along the coast on a 1:50,000 scale OS map (Figure 15.3).
  8. Due to its scale, distance from shore and extent of visibility, it is necessary to consider the effects of the Proposed Development on both coastal character and landscape character.
  9. The effect of the Proposed Development on coastal (seascape) character is considered within the boundaries of defined coastal character areas (CCAs) and the immediately adjacent landscape character type (LCT) covering its hinterland, as defined in Figure 15.3, where there is a strong visual relationship with the sea/tidal waters and coastal landscapes such as dunes or cliffs.
  10. The effect of the Proposed Development on landscape character is considered on LCTs outside and inland of these CCAs and coastal LCTs, where there may be some intervisibility of the Proposed Development, but where the land is unlikely to have a strong visual relationship with the sea/tidal waters. These LCTs are identified in Figure 15.3 In general, they are considered unlikely to experience significant character effects as a result of the Proposed Development because it is located in the sea, and these landscapes do not have a strong visual relationship with the sea and their character is fundamentally defined by other characteristics.

Coastal Character - Scotland

  1. The coastal character of the SLVIA study area within Scotland is defined in Figure 15.3, which shows the boundaries of defined CCAs and the immediately adjacent LCT covering its hinterland, as defined in Figure 15.3, where there is a strong visual relationship with the sea/tidal waters and coastal landscapes such as dunes or cliffs. These CCAs and their associated coastal LCTs, as listed in Table 15.9   Open ▸ , form the baseline coastal characterisation and mapping for the SLVIA, against which the seascape effects of the Proposed Development are assessed.
Table 15.9:
CCAs and Associated Coastal LCTs in Scotland

Table 15.9: CCAs and Associated Coastal LCTs in Scotland


  1. A description of the baseline landscape character and sensitivity to change for each of the above CCAs that are identified in the preliminary assessment ( Table 15.26   Open ▸ ) as requiring detailed assessment, is set out in Section 15.11. An overview of the coastal character in each local authority region in the SLVIA study area is provided below.
Aberdeenshire – overview of coastal character
  1. The 40 km section of coastline from Cove Bay in the north to the headland of Milton Ness, south of the village of Johnshaven (SA3), comprises a predominantly rocky shore backed by cliffs or steep slopes, giving way to a predominantly agricultural hinterland with several settlements including the town of Stonehaven. Largely straight, the long, east-facing coastline has many small indentations and few significant headlands. The predominantly rocky shoreline is narrow and interspersed with small coves and shingle beaches backed by cliffs and steep slopes. Larger beaches lie at Inverbervie Bay and Stonehaven. The agricultural hinterland has occasional areas of semi-natural vegetation such as the heathland of Findon Moor. Settlement includes the towns of Portlethen, Newtonhill, Stonehaven, and Inverbervie; and smaller coastal fishing villages and harbours including Catterline, Gourdon, and Johnshaven.
Angus – overview of coastal character
  1. From St Cyrus and Milton Ness, Montrose Bay (SA4) extends approximately 8 km to the outflow of the River South Esk at Montrose, beyond the mouth of the North Esk. The wide, sandy beach is backed by a line of dunes and grassland and a mostly flat agricultural hinterland. Coniferous plantations lie to the south of the North Esk River and the coastal town of Montrose has a port with industrial development. Heughs of St Cyrus and St Cyrus National Nature Reserve is located along this section of coast.
  2. A low-lying, rocky headland with a rocky foreshore (SA5: Long Craig) backed by a gently sloping agricultural hinterland occasionally extending to the coastline stretches south from Scurdie Ness to Lunan Bay to the south. Tree cover is sparse and mainly concentrated around Usan House, with scattered farmsteads and the landmark of Scurdie Ness lighthouse.
  3. Lunan Bay (SA6) lies to the south of Montrose. A broad sandy beach backed by dunes and framed by low cliffs to the north and south, it extends between Boddin Point and the Lang Craig. In the middle of the bay Lunan Water empties into the sea. Woodland and shelter belts are concentrated on Lunan. The popular beach has traditional salmon fishing nets staked into the sand and is overlooked by the 15th Century ruins of Red Castle.
  4. South of Lunan Bay, a continuous stretch of tall sea cliffs and associated rocky coastline (SA7: Lang Craig To The Deil’s Heid) lies between Lang Craig, and Whiting Ness at the eastern edge of Arbroath by St Ninian’s Well. The Old Red sandstone cliffs display a range of erosion features, and small, narrow shingle beaches are located on the rock platform at Auchmithie, Carlingheugh Bay and Castlesea Bay. A strongly contrasting hinterland comprises sloping agricultural land with limited areas of grassland at the cliff tops supporting rare plant species. The coastline is important for conservation, has geological interest and much of it is designated as a SSSI.
  5. Between Whiting Ness and the eastern edge of Monifieth, the coastline is low lying with extensive rock-cut platforms interspersed with sections of sandy beach and dunes, particularly at Barry Links (SA8: Arbroath To Monifieth).  The well-settled coast includes the towns of Arbroath, Carnoustie and Monifieth. The Dundee to Aberdeen railway line runs adjacent to the coastline. Golf links including the Championship course at Carnoustie provide often coniferous tree cover. Larger areas of woodland lie within Barry Links, also an MOD training ground.
  6. Dundee (SA9) lies on the coastline between Monifieth and Invergowrie. This coastal edge is almost entirely developed with urban development, industry, bridges and other infrastructure including a railway and airport. Here, views focus on the Tay, and inland on the Sidlaw Hills. Beaches around Monifieth and Broughty Ferry are well-used for recreation.
  7. South of Invergowrie the long and narrow Firth of Tay (SA10) has extensive intertidal mudflats and sandbank, and narrow shingle and cobble beaches. Behind the north bank’s extensive reed beds is the Carse of Gowrie, a broad swathe of low-lying agricultural land bisected by the A90 and backed by the Sidlaw Hills. The south bank comprises a narrow strip with areas of low cliffs, rising to relatively low-lying wooded and occasionally rocky, hills including the Ochils. The area is comparatively sparsely settled and includes linear coastal settlement at Newport on Tay between Tay Bridge and Tay Road Bridge.
Fife – overview of coastal character
  1. St Andrews Bay (SA11) extends southwards from Tayport to St Andrews via Tentsmuir Point and includes the Eden Estuary and West Sands. Here the coastal aspect and elevation changes abruptly, marking the transition from the long, sandy bay to the rocky foreshore of St Andrews. Eden Estuary has expansive intertidal shores, while Tentsmuir has significant dune systems, large areas of sandbars at Tentsmuir Point; and the extensive coniferous Tentsmuir Forest. The hinterland remains low-lying and agricultural with scattered farmsteads and golf links courses at the edge of St Andrews.
  2. From St Andrews to Fife Ness (SA12), the open and exposed coastline of rocks and low cliffs is backed by a gently sloping agricultural hinterland. The diverse coastal edge includes small sandy bays, extensive wave-cut rock platforms, low cliffs and narrow, wooded dens. Buddo Ness and Kinkell Ness are small rocky headlands. Inland the agricultural landscape gently undulates.  The historic settlement of St Andrews is a landmark and focus for recreational uses along the coastline.
  3. The coast of the East Neuk of Fife (SA13) from the headland of Fife Ness to Chapel Ness near Earlsferry, is generally low lying and rocky coastline with shingle beaches. This exposed landscape has distinctive red sandstone cliffs and soils, reflected in the busy harbours and pantile roofing of the small traditional fishing villages regularly dispersed along the coast.
  4. East of the island of Inchkeith, the Forth widens greatly, forming wide bays to north and south. The wide northern bay, Largo Bay, extends from Chapel Ness to Pettycur by Kinghorn (SA14: Kirkcaldy And Largo Bay). This generally low-lying coast of sandy beaches and bays. Larger coastal settlements with an industrial character lie along the coast which has areas of reclaimed land protected by coastal defences.
East Lothian – overview of coastal character
  1. The built-up shoreline from Edinburgh to Gullane (SA16) includes Leith Docks, Portobello, Musselburgh, and Cockenzie and Port Seton. It becomes less developed along the East Lothian coast to the small island of Eyebroughy. This section of generally low-lying coast around a broad bay includes docks, harbours, and commercial development, to the west; and open sandy bays with extensive sand and mudflats and dune systems, with small coastal settlements, to the east. The coast’s northerly aspect often restricts views to the Firth of Forth. The less developed coast includes designed landscapes and popular, accessible recreational areas, including Gullane Bay and Aberlady Bay nature reserve.
  2. The north facing coastline continues from Eyebroughy, west of North Berwick, becoming more north-easterly towards Torness Point (SA17). This generally low-lying coast comprises alternating rocky headlands and sandy pocket bays, backed by relatively unfragmented and flat agricultural land. Relatively low tree cover allows extensive views across the flat terrain that is relatively densely settled by the towns of Dunbar and North Berwick. Major roads and rail forms prominent linear features broadly following the coast while a cement works and Torness Power Station are prominent in the area. The coastal scenery is diverse and the coastline sheltered, making it a popular recreational coast.
  3. Torness Power Station is located south-east of Dunbar at Torness Point and was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2023.  However, the operation lifespan of the power station was recently extended to 2028, when it will then be decommissioned.  Given the scale and complexity of this facility, as well as the hazardous nature of the materials used on the site, the decommissioning process would be lengthy and the power station is expected to remain in its current form for years beyond 2028.  Decommissioning of the power station could result in a number of future offshore renewable energy proposals or other electricity generating proposals given the national grid infrastructure currently in place for Torness that would subsequently be unused.
  4. The north-easterly aspect of the coastline continues from Torness Point to St Abb’s Head (SA 18). This barren landscape is exposed in character with dramatic open sea views from a coastline of high, near vertical cliffs, sometimes visibly carved into strongly-folded sedimentary rocks. A pocket beach lies at Pease Sands. Behind the coast, the predominantly agricultural landscape has a varied field pattern with occasional hedgerow trees on lower ground. Scrub is common on steeper slopes and exposed locations. Settlement comprises farmsteads widely dispersed along minor roads and the village of Cocksburnpath, inland near the coastal edge. Views out to the North Sea from this section of coast are contained by Torness Point and St Abb’s Head to the north and south, respectively.