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Landscape Sensitivity and Capacity Assessment

On-shore wind and solar photo-voltaic developments: an assessment approach for Wales

What is this draft guidance about?

This is practice guidance to support the Welsh Government’s Renewable Energy Toolkit for Planners.  The main document sets out how Local Planning Authorities can scope, commission, use and update a landscape sensitivity and capacity assessment.  The Annex 1 document provides more technical details to assist landscape assessment practitioners who carry out such assessments.

Current landscape sensitivity and capacity assessment practice varies, and existing guidance is somewhat dated.  The consultation documents build on the best of existing practice, setting it within the new Welsh legislative and policy context relating to the sustainable management of natural resources, well-being, and place-making.  This context include the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, Welsh Government’s Natural Resources Policy 2017, and Planning Policy Wales.

A number of technical issues are resolved and detailed to provide a steer, balanced with a need not to be over-prescriptive. 

While the focus of this guidance is on onshore wind and solar photo-voltaic developments, a number of the assessment principles may also have application to other development types.

What are we consulting on?

We are interested in any comments that help us to further clarify and refine the practice of landscape sensitivity and capacity assessment.  We welcome comments from different perspectives, whether from those who commission and use such an assessment or whether from assessment practitioners. 

We are not consulting on the principal of whether to consider landscape, as that matter is already established in numerous planning and environmental contexts.

Please also note:

Landscape sensitivity and capacity assessment is an approach used in spatial planning where the details of specific development proposals and sites are not known.  We are not consulting on the now well established, related process of landscape and visual impact assessment.  This distinction is illustrated in Figure 1 of the main document.

How to respond

This consultation runs for 12 weeks. Please email your comments to by 4 March 2019, or write to us. 

After this, we will carefully consider all responses and make any necessary amendments to our draft guidance.  We anticipate publishing the final guidance in May 2019.  We will periodically review and update the guidance as context and practice evolves.

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