Cumulative impact relent to the provisionally-withdrawn Helensburgh wind farm proposal
Cumulative impact is defined in the new (2014) Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) Glossary :
“Impact in combination with other development. That includes existing developments of the kind proposed, those which have permission, and valid applications which have not been determined. The weight attached to undetermined applications should reflect their position in the application process.”
Section 169 of the SPP relates this to wind farms by stating : “ . . . planning authorities should be clear about likely cumulative impacts arising from all the considerations below [*], recognising that in some areas the cumulative impact of existing and consented energy development may limit the capacity for further development.”
[*] “all the considerations below” refer to 15 listed planning criteria to be taken into account when determining applications for wind farms. These include impacts on communities, residential amenity, landscape, visual impact, natural heritage, public access, long distance walking routes historic environment, tourism, recreation and a range of other aspects.
This appears to be a change from the previous (2010) SPP which did not define cumulative impact, but indicated (para. 188) that it was just impact related to other wind farms nearby.
This new elaboration in definition could be significant for determining the Helensburgh wind farm application because of the multiple impacts such a wind farm might have.
Cumulative impact on the wider landscape is presumably included. That could be either the National Park or the whole Clyde Estuary. The A&BC Scoping opinion refers to the “wider Firth of Clyde area” and to “Inverclyde, North Ayrshire and the urban area of Glasgow”. The A&BC decision regarding a planning application for wind turbines at Toward, for example, stated that the “Development would be detrimental to the visual amenity of this important part of the Clyde Estuary”. A&BC also objected to a ten-turbines wind farm at Corlic Hill, Greenock, another example of recognition that cross-Clyde impact is recognised as relevant.
Population affected is reflected in reference to impacts on communities or, as one planner put it to us, “generally the more people there are the more attention is likely to be paid to the consequence of development on that location.”
The SPP (2014, para. 203) refers to refusing planning permission where the nature of the development would have an unacceptable impact on the natural environment, and paragraph 219 states “NPF3 aims to significantly enhance green infrastructure networks, particularly in and around cities and towns.”
These all appear to be part of cumulative impact and have relevance to Helensburgh. Adverse cumulative impact must be avoided for future generations as well as ours.