6. Landscape and Visual Impact

6.1. Introduction

  1. This chapter presents the assessment of the likely significant effects (as per the “EIA Regulations”) on the environment of the Berwick Bank Wind Farm onshore transmission works (OnTW) (the Proposed Development) on the landscape and visual resource. Specifically, this chapter considers the potential impact of the Proposed Development landward of Mean Low Water Springs (MLWS) during the construction, operational and maintenance, and decommissioning phases.
  2. This assessment is informed by the following chapters:
  • Volume 1, Chapter 2: Approach to EIA;
  • Volume 1, Chapter 4: Analysis of Alternatives; and
  • Volume 1, Chapter 5: Proposed Development Description.


  1. This chapter should be read in conjunction with the following technical chapters:
  • Volume 1, Chapter 7: Ecology;
  • Volume 1, Chapter 10: Cultural Heritage; and
  • Offshore EIA Report, Volume 1, Chapter 15: Seascape, Landscape and Visual (SLVIA).


  1. The landscape and visual impact assessment (LVIA) is supported by plan graphics and visual representations within Volume 3: LVIA Figures and Visualisations. LVIA figures include Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV) maps; reference photography; outline landscape mitigation and visual representations, including baseline panorama views and photomontages.
  2. Assessment of the likely significant effects of the Berwick Bank Wind Farm offshore infrastructure on seascape, landscape and visual receptors is presented in section 15.11, Assessment of Significance, of the Offshore EIA Report – Chapter 15: SLVIA.

6.2. Purpose of this Chapter

  1. This LVIA chapter:
  • Presents the existing environmental baseline established from desktop studies, site-specific surveys and consultation with stakeholders;
  • Presents the methodology and approach to assessment including assessment criteria;
  • Identifies any assumptions and limitations encountered in compiling the environmental information;
  • Highlights any necessary monitoring and/or mitigation measures recommended to prevent, minimise, reduce or offset the likely significant adverse environmental effects of the Proposed Development on the baseline landscape and visual environment; and.
  • Presents the potential environmental impacts on the landscape and visual resource arising from the Proposed Development and reaches a conclusion on the likely residual significant effects on landscape and visual resource based on the information gathered and the analysis and assessments undertaken.

6.3. Study Area

  1. The initial step in the assessment is the establishment of the LVIA study area. The LVIA study area for the Proposed Development extends to define a limit beyond which professional judgement considers it would be unlikely for significant effects to arise. This judgement is based on knowledge of similar projects, the extent of ZTV for the onshore substation, an understanding of the character of the local landscape and the scale of the construction and development of the OnTW of the Proposed Development.
  2. As agreed with consultees during scoping, the study area for the onshore substation extends to a 5 km radius from the onshore substation, see Volume 3, Figure 6.1   Open ▸ Within this study area a more focussed study area for the proposed onshore cable route and landfall extends to a 1 km buffer from the cable corridor. The cable corridor broadly consists of a 60 m wide corridor along the cable route, with a wider area at landfall.
  3. The LVIA study area is not intended to provide a boundary beyond which the Proposed Development would not be seen, but rather to define the area within which there is potential for significant landscape or visual effects to occur.  It is considered very unlikely that a significant effect would occur towards the boundary of the LVIA study area.

6.3.1.    Intertidal Area

  1. This intertidal area overlaps with the offshore topic of Seascape, Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (SLVIA). Please refer to Volume 2, Chapter 15: Seascape, Landscape and Visual of the Offshore EIA Report for further detail.
  2. The Offshore EIA Report is available online at the Berwick Bank Wind Farm website; www.berwickbank.com. An electronic copy will be available to East Lothian Council Planning Department.
  3. The intertidal area (Mean Low Water to Mean High Water Springs) throughout the LVIA study area includes the rocky coastline and beaches from Dunbar Golf Course, east of Dunbar, to Castle Dykes, north of Cove.  The intertidal area at the proposed landfall incorporates the rock platform and shingle beach west of Chapel Point.  As trenchless technology (e.g. horizontal directional drilling (HDD)) will be employed to bring the offshore export cable ashore, no physical disturbance of the beach or intertidal area is predicted and as a result, there would be no physical landscape effect on the intertidal area.
  4. The intertidal area also includes seascape character areas and the potential effect of the Proposed Development on these seascape areas (whilst not a direct physical effect on the intertidal area itself) are considered within the LVIA chapter.  The SLVIA chapter within the Offshore EIA report also considers the interrelated effects of both onshore and offshore elements of the Proposed Development, which includes potential effects on the seascape character areas within the intertidal area.

6.4. Policy and Legislative Context

  1. A summary of national and local policy provisions relevant to LVIA are provided in Table 6.1 and 6.2 below.
  2. The LVIA study area encompasses parts of East Lothian Council and Scottish Borders Council administrative boundaries.  The relevant local planning policies are contained within East Lothian Local Development Plan 2018 and Scottish Borders Local Development Plan 2016.
Table 6.1:
Summary of National Planning Policy Relevant to the LVIA Chapter

Table 6.1: Summary of National Planning Policy Relevant to the LVIA Chapter


Table 6.2:
Summary of Local Planning Policy Relevant to the LVIA Chapter

Table 6.2: Summary of Local Planning Policy Relevant to the LVIA Chapter


6.5. Consultation

  1. A summary of the key issues raised during consultation activities undertaken to date specific to LVIA is presented in Table 6.3 below, together with how these issues have been considered in the production of this LVIA chapter. Further detail is presented within Volume 1, Chapter 2 of the Onshore EIA Report and the Pre-Application Consultation (PAC) Report.
Table 6.3:
Summary of Key Consultation Undertaken for the Proposed Development Relevant to LVIA

Table 6.3: Summary of Key Consultation Undertaken for the Proposed Development Relevant to LVIA


6.6. Methodology to Inform Baseline

6.6.1.    Desktop Study

  1. Information on the baseline landscape and visual resource within the LVIA study area was collected through a detailed desktop review of existing studies and datasets.  These are summarised in Table 6.4 below.  The baseline environment presented in section 6.7 outlines currently available information for the LVIA study area.
Table 6.4:
Summary of Key Desktop Studies & Datasets

Table 6.4:  Summary of Key Desktop Studies & Datasets

6.6.2.    Identification of Landscape Baseline and Designated Sites

Landscape Baseline

  1. The baseline conditions of the landscape throughout the LVIA study area were established by desktop review of relevant landscape character assessments and the ZTV to identify landscape receptors that have the potential to be directly or indirectly affected by the Proposed Development. 
  2. During the desktop review, written descriptions of the key characteristics and value of landscape receptors were prepared.

Designated Sites

  1. Landscape designations within the LVIA study area with the potential to be affected by the construction, operation and maintenance and decommissioning of the Proposed Development were identified using various sources (including both the ELC LDP, 2018, and SBC LDP, 2012, as well as opensource GIS datasets as identified in Table 6.4   Open ▸ ).
  2. Landscape receptors were then appraised, via desktop study and field survey, and included for further consideration with the LVIA chapter if:
  • located, either wholly or partly, within the ZTV;
  • likely to have actual visibility of the Proposed Development; considering the proportion of the designated area identified as having theoretical visibility, the distance between it and the Proposed Development and any intervening screening influences; and
  • there is potential for significant effects attributable to the Proposed Development resulting from the above factors.

6.6.3.    Site Specific Surveys

  1. A series of field surveys were undertaken between April 2021 and February 2022 for those receptors identified for inclusion in the detailed assessment process.  Field surveys were carried out throughout the LVIA study area from publicly accessible locations, and included the following:
  • Field survey verification of the character areas of the LVIA study area and verification of how these might be affected by the Proposed Development;
  • Assessment of the Proposed Development site area and LVIA study area to identify specific features that contribute to landscape character or that are important to the wider landscape setting;
  • Field survey of the visual amenity of the LVIA study area from receptors representative of the range of views and viewer types likely to experience the Proposed Development including views from a variety of distances, receptors, aspects, elevations and extents;
  • Micro-siting of viewpoint locations; and
  • Panoramic baseline photography and visual assessment from viewpoints locations;


  1. Field survey of the onshore substation focusses on the areas shown to have theoretical visibility of the Proposed Development on the Bare Ground ZTV shown on Volume 3, Figure 6.8   Open ▸ and Screened ZTV shown on Volume 3, Figure 6.9   Open ▸ For the proposed onshore export cable and landfall, the focus of the field survey is on the landscape, which is physically affected, although visibility of these elements is also considered as part of the wider field survey analysis. The field survey allows the assessors to judge the likely scale, distance, extent and prominence of the Proposed Development directly. Site specific survey data is summarised in Table 6.5.
Table 6.5:
Summary of Site-Specific Survey Data

Table 6.5:  Summary of Site-Specific Survey Data

6.7. Baseline Environment

6.7.1.    Introduction

  1. This section identifies aspects of the landscape and visual resource that may be significantly affected by the Proposed Development and provides a description of the existing landscape and visual conditions in the area that may be affected (landscape and visual baseline). Establishing the baseline will, when reviewed alongside the description of the Proposed Development provided in Volume 1, Chapter 5 Proposed Development Description, form the basis for the identification and description of landscape and visual effects.
  2. The baseline description of the landscape and visual resource that may be affected is primarily determined by the physical footprint of the Proposed Development and the onshore substation ZTV, Volume 3, Figure 6.8   Open ▸ The baseline also describes current pressures that may cause change in the landscape in the future, and which need to be considered cumulatively with the Proposed Development, in particular drawing on information regarding other developments that are not yet present in the landscape but are in the planning process.    
  3. This section provides an overview of the landscape and visual baseline.  A detailed baseline description is provided separately within the assessment of significance section for each landscape or visual receptor that may be significantly affected by the Proposed Development.

6.7.2.    Landscape Baseline Overview

Site Context

  1. The Proposed Development is located within the administrative boundary of East Lothian Council.  Located south-east of Dunbar, the proposed onshore cable corridor extends from the landfall at Chapel Point, north of Skateraw Harbour, to the proposed onshore substation site north-east of Innerwick and then southeast to land near Branxton.  The onshore substation site lies on gradually sloping agricultural land south of the A1 trunk road.
  2. The landscape of the LVIA study area exhibits a coastal and underlying rural character across landform that gradually slopes to the north-east, transitioning from upland fringes to the coastal lowlands of East Lothian with coastal views to the North Sea.  The landscape of the LVIA study area is primarily in agricultural use, however, the stretch of coast to the north of the A1 trunk road contains a range of industrial development including Torness Power Station and connecting overhead line infrastructure, Dunbar Landfill Site, Dunbar Energy Recovery Facility and Dunbar Cement Works and Quarry.  These industrial sites are prevalent in views along this stretch of coastline. The Barns Ness Lighthouse is also seen in coastal views throughout the LVIA study area, set against the sea east of White Sands beach.
  3. Landform within close proximity of the Proposed Development is gently sloping, affording open and unobstructed views to the North Sea.  To the south and west of the LVIA study area, the terrain rises from the coastal plain to form a transitional upland character of rounded hill summits with both steep and gentle hill slopes.  These hills allow views across the coastal, rolling farmlands and form a backdrop of inland views from the coast.
  4. The East Lothian coast throughout the LVIA study area is characterised by a dramatic landscape of intricate and rugged features.  Narrow, and at times stony, beaches and coves are sheltered by rounded headlands and isolated by rugged cliffs and raised beach platforms of dune grassland, salt marsh and shingle habitat.  Beaches face out to the North Sea and are frequently windswept.  Despite this, the coastline forms an accessible recreational resource with a number of car parks and picnic spots in evidence.  White Sands and Thorntonloch beaches, located north and east of the onshore substation site respectively, are both popular resources with local residents and visitors to the area. Both beaches provide access to the John Muir Link which follows the East Lothian coastline through the LVIA study area, with White Sands providing access to Barns Ness Lighthouse.
  5. The agricultural landscape of this part of the East Lothian is primarily arable in coastal areas and on lower hill slopes.  Fields are of a medium to large scale and are bound by broken hedgerows of hawthorn or beech and post-and-wire fencing.  With increased elevation, towards the south-east of the LVIA study area, land cover transitions to improved grassland pasture bound by pink or grey stone walls with rough grassland and occasional heather moorland on more elevated rounded hill summits.
  6. Deciduous scrub woodland tends to follow the route of water courses, beyond which tree cover towards the coast is restricted to small groups of trees around farmsteads and tree planting following the route of the A1 trunk road.  On hill slopes and at higher elevations more frequent coniferous shelterbelts and occasional field boundary trees are exhibited with more extensive areas of woodland (including instances of ancient woodland) limited to the steep slopes of incised river channels.  Coniferous plantation only becomes an evident feature of the landscape composition at the south-western edge of the LVIA study area, at High Wood.
  7. The arrangement of settlement across the LVIA study area is predominantly scattered and limited to small groups of residential properties, traditional farms, converted steadings (including Crowhill) and villages such as Innerwick, Skateraw and Oldhamstocks.  Thurston Manor Caravan Park, 1.5 km west of the Proposed Development, is a 176 acres recreational facility including caravan accommodation set in an enclosed woodland setting.  These areas of settlement are connected by a rural road network comprising mainly minor and single-track roads, bridges, and fords. 
  8. The A1 trunk road and East Coast Main Line (ECML) are prominent linear infrastructural elements of the landscape composition, in close proximity to the site.  The A1 trunk road is a dualled carriageway within the western part of the LVIA study area, transitioning to single carriageway to the north of the Proposed Development and throughout the eastern parts of the study area to the Cove roundabout. Bridges, tunnels and embankments associated with these routes are found throughout the LVIA study area.
  9. The industrial context of the coastal landscape is a notable influence on the landscape character, within the immediate context of the onshore substation site this is particularly notable in relation to the large buildings and stack with tall plume of Dunbar Cement Works, located at 2.5 km to the north-west and the distinctive Torness Power Station, located 1.2 km north-east of the onshore substation site and 900 m east of the landfall. In addition to this, the active quarrying operations at Dunbar Cement Works, Dunbar Landfill Site, Dunbar Energy Recovery Facility, and electricity overhead lines associated with the Torness Power Station are also features in this industrial context. Beyond this immediate context, the Blackcastle Hill radio tower and operational Crystal Rig wind farm (located outside the LVIA study area) are noticeable features of the inland visible horizon from coastal areas.

Landscape Character

  1. In 2019, NatureScot published a revised and updated version of their digital, map-based Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) for Scotland.  During 2005, ELC published the Landscape Capacity Study for Wind Turbine Development in East Lothian (East Lothian LCS). Whilst the East Lothian LCS presents baseline descriptions for the landscape of the LVIA study area, it does not consider the sensitivity of the baseline landscape context to offshore wind energy development or energy infrastructure related development.  The 2019 NatureScot programme of LCA for Scotland is therefore considered the current and most relevant landscape characterisation study for the LVIA study area and the Landscape Character Type (LCT) boundaries and descriptions it defines will form the basis of the assessment of effects on landscape character in this LVIA chapter, as agreed with consultees during Scoping.
  2. The Proposed Development is located within LCT 277: Coastal Margins – Lothians, which encompasses a wide central strip of the study area and East Lothian coastline from Broxburn, south of Dunbar, to the local authority boundary with SBC, north of Cockburnspath.  The south-west quadrant of LVIA study area (and much of the remainder of the landscape within the study area) is characterised as LCT 269: Upland Fringes – Lothian. 
  3. LCT boundaries are mapped on Volume 3 Figure 6.3   Open ▸ and with the onshore substation screened ZTV on Volume 3 Figure 6.10   Open ▸

Seascape Character

  1. NatureScot Commissioned Report 103[1] characterises the portion of the East Lothian Coast within the LVIA study area as National Seascape Character Type 2: Rocky Coastline with Open Sea Views. 
  2. At a regional level, the coastal character of the LVIA study area is defined by the Regional Seascape Character Assessment Aberdeen to Holy Island (Forth and Tay Offshore Windfarm Developer Group, 2011).  The Forth and Tay Offshore Wind Developers Group (FTOWDG) Seascape Character Assessment (SCA) outlines Regional Seascape Character Areas (SA) along the coastline of the LVIA study area as SA17: Eyebroughty to Torness Point and SA18: Torness Point to St Abbs Head.  SAs are mapped on Volume 3 Figure 6.3   Open ▸ as coloured lines along the coast.
  3. ELC have also described the coastline within the LVIA study area in Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) accompanying the East Lothian LDP (2018) titled Countryside and Coast.  This SPG segregates National Seascape Character Type 2: Rocky Coastline with Open Sea Views into two distinct areas of seascape character: Area 12 – Barns Ness Coast and Area 13 – Thorntonloch Coast and have broadly similar extents to SA17 and SA18.
  4. For consistency with the Offshore EIA Report Volume 2, Chapter 15: Seascape, Landscape and Visual; and as it considers the specific sensitivity of the coastline throughout the LVIA study area to offshore wind farms; the FTOWDG SCA is considered the most relevant seascape characterisation study and will form the basis of the assessment of effects on seascape character in this LVIA chapter.

Landscape Designations

  1. A landscape designation is an area of landscape identified as being of importance at international, national or local level, either defined by statute or identified in development plans or other documents. These landscapes are designated in relation to their special qualities or features which warrant special consideration through the planning system.
  2. There are three ways in which such designations are relevant to the LVIA:
  • The presence of a designation can give an indication of a recognised value that may increase the sensitivity of a landscape character receptor, viewpoint or visual receptor, and may therefore affect the significance of the effect on that receptor;
  • The presence of a relevant designation can lead to the selection of a representative viewpoint within the designated area, as the viewpoint will provide a representative outlook from that area; and
  • Designated areas may be included as landscape character receptors so that the effects of the Proposed Development on the landscapes that have been accorded particular value can be specifically assessed.
    1. In relation to the Proposed Development, landscape designations within the LVIA study area include:
  • SLA 29: Dunbar to Barns Ness Coast;
  • SLA 30: Thortonloch to Dunglass Coast;
  • SLA 4: Monynut to Blackcastle;
  • SLA 7: Doonhill to Chesters;
  • SLA 6: Halls to Bransley Hill:
  • Broxmouth Park GDL; and
  • Dunglass GDL.
    1. The onshore substation site is not covered by any of these Landscape Designations.  The northern part of the site boundary (including the proposed landfall and cable corridor) crosses SLA 29 Dunbar to Barns Ness Coast, the southern part of the site boundary and cable corridor crosses the edges of SLA 4 Monynut to Blackcastle. Landscape Designations are mapped on Volume 3 Figure 6.4   Open ▸ and on the onshore substation screened ZTV in Volume 3 Figure 6.10   Open ▸

6.7.3.    Visual Baseline


  1. Principle visual receptors within the LVIA study area include people in small settlements and at small groups of properties, users of roads and recreational routes or at destinations.  The locations of principle visual receptors are mapped in Volume 3 Figure 6.5 and with the proposed onshore substation screened ZTV in Volume 3 Figure 6.11   Open ▸
  2. The main areas of settlement throughout the LVIA study area are Innerwick, south-west of the proposed onshore substation, Skateraw, which lies south of the proposed landfall and east of the onshore cable corridor, and Oldhamstocks, which is located 2.3 km south of the Proposed Development.  Beyond this, settlement is limited to scattered small groups of properties, traditional farms and converted steadings including Thornton, Crowhill and Thurston.  The Thurston Manor Caravan Park is also located within the LVIA study area, 1.5 km west of the Proposed Development.
  3. Areas of settlement are linked via a minor, rural road network comprising mostly single-track roads, bridges, and fords.  The LVIA study area is also crossed by the main route of the A1 trunk road and the ECML which follow a wide transport corridor across the coastal margins, south of Dunbar.  Existing industrial sites are serviced via a network of private roads and also utilise the main railway line.  Farm access tracks and the minor road network navigate both major routes via a network of bridges and tunnels that are a feature of the LVIA study area. 
  4. National Cycle Route (NCR) 76 traces the route of the ECML south from Broxmouth Park, having followed the A1087 south-east from Dunbar.  The route then skirts the industrial works at Dunbar Cement Plant and Dunbar Landfill before following the minor road network, west of Skateraw.  This section of the route also forms part of the core path network.  NCR 76 then joins the A1 trunk road at the Skateraw Junction, west of Torness Power Station.  At this point, the cycle route continues as a traffic free cycle path and core path following the A1 trunk road south, however from here NCR 76 has been reclassified and is not part of the National Cycle Network.
  5. The John Muir Link a long-distance walking route, traces the East Lothian coastline through the LVIA study area linking the beaches at White Sands, Skateraw Harbour and Thorntonloch via the Barns Ness Lighthouse.  This part of the route also passes in close proximity to the recently restored and active quarries at Dunbar Cement Plant as well as the cooling water intake and breakwater at Torness Power Station.  The John Muir Link is also included as part of the core path network.
  6. A number of core paths provide additional recreation access opportunities throughout the LVIA study area.  The most relevant of these routes to the LVIA is the core path that leaves the north-east edge of Innerwick, bordering Innerwick Primary School, joining the minor road west of the proposed onshore substation.  There is potential for recreational users of this route to be affected by the construction activity of the proposed cable corridor and onshore substation as well as the operation of the proposed onshore substation. 
  7. Beyond this, the remaining core paths distributed throughout the southern and western LVIA study area have no potential to experience significant effects as a result of the Proposed Development.  The screened ZTV in Volume 3 Figure 6.11   Open ▸ demonstrates no theoretical visibility from these recreational routes.

Representative Viewpoints

  1. The representative viewpoints identified for inclusion in the detailed assessment process have been selected to reflect the variety of landscape character types, landscape designations and receptor types as well as view directions and distance that may be significantly affected, primarily by the onshore substation of the Proposed Development.  The representative viewpoints also assist in defining the likely extent of significant visual effects associated with the Proposed Development from principle visual receptors located throughout the LVIA study area.
  2. Six viewpoints for the landscape and visual assessment have been selected through consultation and agreement with ELC. The precise viewpoint locations have been finalised based on site survey and potential visibility of the Proposed Development. Representative viewpoints for assessment are identified in Table 6.6 below and mapped in Volume 3 Figure 6.8 and Figure 6.9   Open ▸ Further context photographs of the Proposed Development are also provided in Volume 3 Figure 6.7   Open ▸              
Table 6.6:
Representative Viewpoints

Table 6.6:  Representative Viewpoints 

6.7.4.    Future Baseline Scenario

  1. The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017, require that a “description of the relevant aspects of the current state of the environment (the “baseline scenario”) and an outline of the likely evolution thereof without development as far as natural changes from the baseline scenario can be assessed with reasonable effort, on the basis of the availability of relevant information and scientific knowledge” is included within the Onshore EIA Report.
  2. In order to ensure that the Proposed Development is assessed against a realistic baseline scenario, i.e., what the baseline conditions are likely to be once the Proposed Development is operational, a description of the likely future baseline conditions is provided within this section.
  3. In the absence of the Proposed Development proceeding on the site, the land is considered most likely to remain in its present condition.  Pastoral and arable agriculture would continue as the principal land uses, subject to the discussion below on climate change, land use and decommissioning of Torness Power Station.
  4. The main driver of future change within the landscape and visual resource is climate change. Aspects that may cause change are likely to take two forms; measures to mitigate against the adverse effects of climate change and measures put in place to try and limit the future effects of it.      
  5. The need for increased flood defence measures is likely to be a driver for change in relation to the coastline and water courses as well as potential changes to other land use practices.
  6. Net Zero carbon emission targets are likely to see an increase in renewable energy development, which is likely to include further onshore and offshore wind farm development, tidal and wave power projects and solar development.  A number of operational wind farms are located within the Lammermuir Hills, south of the LVIA study area, and it is expected that additional applications for renewable energy development in this area will be forthcoming in the future.  This may result in a need for further grid infrastructure development to connect with the national grid and consumers.
  7. Torness Power Station is currently located within the LVIA study area, 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. 
  8. 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.
  9. Increased walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure may result in changes within urban and rural areas to accommodate this with the aim of reducing vehicular travel and providing increased amenity resources.
  10. Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union new policies are being drawn up to replace the Common Agricultural Policy.  This may result in different agricultural practices being subsidised so that land-uses and land management practices that can reduce or offset carbon emissions become more prevalent. These may include increased tree cover; hedgerow planting and areas being left ungrazed. There may also be increases in food production in the UK in order to reduce our need to import, which may also change farming infrastructure and practices.
  11. The recent change in how people work – at home rather than travelling to offices- is likely to continue and may result in changes to town centres where there is a focus on commercial property. Such changes may also put more development pressure on rural communities.
  12. In summary, whilst it is acknowledged that there is anticipated to be some change in the future baseline, the LVIA has not assessed these due to the uncertainty surrounding the nature, type and timing of changes to the baseline.

6.7.5.    Data Assumptions And Limitations

  1. While there are some limitations related to the LVIA chapter, these are not considered to affect the identification or assessment of likely significant effects for landscape and visual receptors.
  2. The preparation of ZTVs, wireline visualisations and photomontages as assessment tools incorporates certain limitations, including the accuracy of digital terrain modelling (DTM).  These limitations are described in section 6.9.7.  The use of detailed terrain models such as OS Terrain 5, production of visualisations and photomontages to recognised standards and field survey assessment of potential impacts aids in minimising these limitations.
  3. Field survey was restricted, at times, during periods of COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and early 2021.  It is not possible to visit every part of the LVIA study area when undertaking field surveys and therefore some aspects of the assessment are based on desktop study and professional experience. 
  4. For example, large parts of the LVIA study area comprises agricultural land that has restricted public access. In addition, sites such as Torness Power Station and the Dunbar Cement Plant are not readily accessible by members of the public.  It is considered that public roads and footpaths across the LVIA study area have provided sufficient coverage to form the basis of a robust assessment throughout the LVIA chapter.
  5. The photomontages supporting the LVIA chapter include indicative High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) and High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) layout options, in a neutral finish, to illustrate the potential scale and massing of onshore substation infrastructure within a defined Project Design Envelope (PDE). Illustrative substation infrastructure has been presented in a neutral ‘Merlin’ grey colour, however, consideration of the colour and finish of the proposed onshore substation buildings should form a component of the detailed design process, when a finalised layout option is confirmed, and be informed by any locally appropriate building vernacular. Figures 6.15j&k shows a visualisation which provides an indicative example of building design finish and colour that is regarded to be suitable for the Proposed Development. This initial colour selection is based on experience of other similar large structures either experienced in the landscape or within proposals for other substation developments. This initial concept is further explained in section 6.10.5.
  6. The preparation of the supporting photomontages has adopted a finished ground level for the onshore substation platform of 43.4m AOD, as detailed in Volume 1, Chapter 5: Proposed Development Description.  The maximum design scenario and the indicative HVAC and HVDC layout options, have been included in supporting photomontages on the basis of this finished ground level, which may be subject to change.

6.8. Key Parameters for Assessment

6.8.1.    Potential Effects for Assessment

  1. This section sets out the potential effects for consideration within the detailed assessment.

Potential effects during construction

  1. The potential effects of the Proposed Development during the construction process would include effects upon the physical features found at each construction area.  Effects may also be exerted upon the landscape character and visual amenity of construction areas and surrounding areas.
  2. Potential effects during the construction process would relate to the processes involved, associated plant, materials and material storage areas and temporary construction compounds including structures and fencing.  The emerging presence of the proposed onshore substation structure, as a visible feature above ground level, may also present potential effects during construction.
  3. Along the cable route, excavations, material storage, trenchless technology (e.g. HDD) and construction compounds are likely to have the greatest effect on landscape and visual amenity, please refer to Volume 3 Figure 6.6   Open ▸   Attributable impacts associated with the construction of the cable corridor are considered to be localised to the close vicinity of the cable route.
  4. Volume 1, Chapter 5: Proposed Development Description outlines proposed construction working hours which could extend across 24 hours for trenchless technology (e.g. HDD) activities, however, all other construction activities will be limited as far as practicable during the hours of darkness to occur between the hours of 07:00 and 19:00 Monday to Sunday. This means that potential effects related to the use of construction lighting during the hours of darkness would largely be limited to early morning or late afternoon/ early evening during winter months when daylight hours are more limited, except for trenchless technology activities which could extend through the night in order to complete particular sections. Whilst trenchless technology activities have been assessed as potentially occurring across 24 hours, this would be a rare occurrence.

Potential effects during operation

  1. The potential landscape and visual effects of the Proposed Development during operation are primarily related to the introduction of the proposed onshore substation. 
  2. Visible operational components of the onshore cable corridor would be limited to ground level access hatches at the landfall Transition Joint Bays and Cable Joint Bays and comms boxes/ link boxes along the onshore cable corridor.  At landfall, the Transition Joint Bays would also be protected by permanent security fencing. 
  3. Upon completion of the construction phase, land excavated to install onshore cables would be backfilled and reinstated to its former agricultural use.  Any physical features of the landscape disrupted during the construction process (including hedgerows, walls or road surfaces) would be replaced.  Similarly, construction compounds and material storage areas would be restored to agricultural land use.  Consequently, the potential operational effects of the onshore cable corridor on landscape character and visual amenity are considered to be negligible as the infrastructure would primarily be underground.
  4. If required, scheduled maintenance or unplanned replacement of any onshore cable infrastructure would result in localised and temporary effects of a considerably reduced scale to the landscape and visual effects associated with the construction process.  Therefore, operational effects of the onshore cable corridor and landfall are scoped out of the assessment of operational effects.

Potential effects during decommissioning

  1. Volume 1, Chapter 5: Proposed Development Description details that the Proposed Development is likely to remain a permanent installation to the transmission network with a minimum operating period of 35.  Confirmation of any potential decommissioning process would be determined by the relevant legislation and guidance at that time.
  2. The attributable effects upon the baseline landscape character and visual resource as a result of decommissioning are predicted to be comparable, and no greater than, those identified for the construction process.
  3. As a result, potential decommissioning effects upon landscape character and visual amenity are not considered further in the LVIA Chapter.

Potential cumulative effects

  1. Potential cumulative effects may arise as a result of the introduction of the Proposed Development in conjunction with consented and proposed industrial sites, electrical grid infrastructure and energy developments in the LVIA study area.  Please refer to section 6.12: Cumulative Effects Assessment.

Potential effects summary

  1. Table 6.7, below, sets out the potential landscape and visual effects that may arise from the introduction of the Proposed Development.  It is important to note that the inclusion of a potential effect within Table 6.7 does not indicate that the effect would occur or be significant.
Table 6.7:
Summary of Potential Effects for Assessment

Table 6.7: Summary of Potential Effects for Assessment

  1. The principal effects of the Proposed Development on the baseline landscape and visual resource result from the construction of the cable corridor and onshore substation, as well as the operation of the onshore substation. 
  2. As the onshore export cable is proposed to be buried there would be little or no visual effects resulting from the proposed onshore cable once operational. In addition, the relatively discreet nature of the proposed onshore cable corridor means that only the views of close-range receptors (within around 100m) would be potentially significantly affected during construction. The duration and extent of the construction phase, coupled with the amount of excavation and material storage, would also have an effect on landscape character and visual amenity.
  3. The outline construction programme for the Proposed Development is scheduled to last for 40 months, incorporating general enabling works.  Construction effects identified by the LVIA Chapter are therefore considered to occur during this period and conclude with the restoration of the onshore cable corridor and operation of the onshore substation including mitigation planting.   
  4. The built infrastructure proposed as part of the onshore substation has a greater extent of potential visibility and therefore visual receptors over a wider area would potentially be affected. Visual effects as a result of the proposed onshore substation would be likely to occur during the construction process and upon operation.

Impacts Scoped out of the Assessment

  1. This LVIA chapter includes a 'Preliminary Assessment' which identifies those aspects of the landscape and visual resource that do not have potential to undergo a significant effect as a result of the Proposed Development. These aspects of the landscape and visual resource are then scoped out of the detailed assessment. The Preliminary Assessment is presented in sections 6.11.4, 6.11.6 and 6.12. of the LVIA chapter.

6.8.2.    Maximum Design Scenario

  1. The LVIA has adopted a maximum design scenario approach based on details within the Project Design Envelope (PDE), as described in Volume 1, Chapter 5. The PDE sets out the design options for the Proposed Development including the maximum extents for key components of the onshore infrastructure, including the onshore substation, cable corridors and landfall.
  2. This assessment considers the maximum design scenario (i.e., volume and height parameters) for the Proposed Development to ensure the upper limit of attributable effects can be illustrated and assessed by the LVIA chapter.
  3. A degree of flexibility must be maintained in relation to the final size and location of the proposed infrastructure within the PDE, which would be finalised during the detailed design process.  However, sufficient information regarding the design parameters for the development is needed to inform the LVIA. Effects of greater adverse significance are not predicted to arise should any other development scenario, based on details within the PDE (e.g. different infrastructure layout), to that assessed here, be taken forward in the final design scheme. Further details of the use of a PDE are also provided in Volume 1, Chapter 2: Approach to EIA.             
  4. Table 6.8 below describes the key PDE parameters for the LVIA from Volume 1, Chapter 5: Proposed Development Description, to establish the maximum design scenario for the LVIA for each potential impact.               
Table 6.8:
PDE Maximum Design Scenario for LVIA

Table 6.8: PDE Maximum Design Scenario for LVIA 

6.9. Methodology for Assessment of Effects

6.9.1.    Overview

  1. The LVIA has been undertaken in accordance with the Landscape Institute and IEMA (2013) Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, 3rd Edition (GLVIA3) and other best practice guidance.  An overview of the LVIA process is provided here.
  2. The LVIA is undertaken using the following steps:
  • The features of the Proposed Development that may result in landscape and visual effects are described;
  • The overall scope of the assessment is defined, including the study area and range of possible landscape and visual effects;
  • The landscape baseline is established using landscape character assessment and the ZTV maps, to identify landscape receptors that may be affected and their key characteristics and value;
  • The visual baseline is established by identifying the extent of possible visibility, identifying the people who may be affected, identifying visual receptors and selecting viewpoints;
  • A preliminary assessment is undertaken of landscape and visual receptors to identify which landscape and visual receptors are unlikely to be significantly affected and those that are more likely to be significantly affected, which require to be assessed in more detail;
  • Interactions are identified between the Proposed Development and landscape and visual receptors, to predict potentially significant effects arising and measures are proposed to mitigate effects;
  • An assessment of the susceptibility of landscape and visual receptors to specific change and the value attached to landscape receptors and views is undertaken, combining these judgements to assess the sensitivity of the landscape and visual receptor to the Proposed Development;
  • An assessment of the size/ scale of landscape effect, the degree to which landscape elements are altered and the extent to which the effects change the key characteristics of the landscape is undertaken, combining these judgements to assess the magnitude of change on the landscape receptor;
  • An assessment of the size/ scale of visual effect, the extent to which the change would affect views, whether this is unique or representative of a wider area, and the position of the Proposed Development in relation to the principal orientation of the view and activity of the receptor. These judgements are combined to assess the magnitude of change on the visual receptor; and
  • The assessments of sensitivity to change and magnitude of change are combined to assess the significance of landscape and visual effects.  
    1. GLVIA3 sets out an approach to the assessment of magnitude of change in which three separate considerations are combined within the magnitude of change rating.  These are the size or scale of the effect, its geographical extent and its duration and reversibility.  Notably GLVIA3 is not a prescriptive methodology but guidance.  The guidance suggests that this approach is to be applied in respect of both landscape and visual receptors. It is considered that the process of combining all three considerations in one rating can distort the aim of identifying likely significant effects of development. For example, a high magnitude of change, based on size or scale, may be reduced to a lower rating if it occurred in a localised geographical area and for a short duration. This might mean that a potentially significant effect would be overlooked if effects are diluted down due to their limited geographical extents and/ or duration or reversibility.
    2. As advocated by GLVIA3 the assessment has used professional judgement in defining the methodology for the LVIA. Page 21 of GLVIA3 states – ‘Professional judgement is a very important part of LVIA……Professional judgements must be based on both training and experience and in general suitably qualified and experienced landscape professionals should carry out Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments. Even with qualified and Experienced professionals there can be differences in the judgements made. This may result from using different approaches or different criteria, or from variation in judgements based on the same criteria.’ In this LVIA, the consideration of the size or scale of the effect, its geographical extent and its duration and reversibility has been undertaken separately, by basing the magnitude of change on size or scale to determine where significant and not significant effects occur, and then describing the geographical extents of these effects and their duration and reversibility separately. Duration and reversibility are stated separately in relation to the assessed effects (i.e., as short/medium/long-term and temporary/permanent) and are considered as part of drawing conclusions about likely significance, combining with other judgements on sensitivity and magnitude, to allow a final judgement to be made on whether each effect is significant or not significant.
    3. The assessment methodology utilises six scales of magnitude of change - high, medium-high, medium, medium-low, low and negligible/none; which are preferred to the 'maximum of five categories' suggested in GLVIA3 as a means of clearly defining and summarising magnitude of change judgements.
    4. The LVIA Chapter has followed the methodology set out section 6.9.2 of the Onshore EIA Report. Specific to the assessment of LVIA, the following guidance documents have also been considered:
  • Landscape Institute and IEMA (2013).  Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment: Third Edition (GLVIA3);
  • NatureScot (2021). Assessing the Cumulative Impact of Onshore Wind Energy Developments;
  • NatureScot (2019).  Digital Map-Based Landscape Character Assessment; and
  • Landscape Institute (2019). Visual Representation of Development Proposals.