QMark: Cumulative assessment: where do we go next?

Neil Elliot, principal landscape planner, LUC, considers how to make cumulative assessment more effective.

It has been a long-standing requirement for a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) supporting a planning application, for example for a large scale wind farm, to include a cumulative LVIA (CLVIA). 

Smaller wind energy developments and other forms of development are required to consider cumulative effects too. Undertaking a CLVIA for a large wind farm typically involves the consideration of other wind farms that are operational, under construction, consented or undetermined within a large study area.

A starting point of 60km radius is typical but this is usually reduced to 30km. Increasingly, local planning authorities (LPAs) are asking for schemes at scoping stage, before a valid planning application is made, to also be included. In certain parts of the country, this can result in a very long list of wind farms which need to be considered.

When considering cumulative effects these are typically considered in terms of ‘additional effects’ or ‘total/ combined effects’: 

Additional effects consider the addition of the proposed development to cumulative baseline broken into two scenarios: a cumulative baseline which considers all operational, under construction and consented schemes, and a cumulative baseline which considers the same schemes, ...

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