Severn Road, Bristol
Community Wind Turbine
Services: EIA Coordination, Ecological Surveys, LVIA, Graphics and Visualisations
In 2017 Ambition Lawrence Weston (ALW) a resident-led charity and company, instructed The Landmark Practice to assist with developing a scheme for a large scale community wind turbine for the Lawrence Weston Communities.
Climate change is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing our world today. UK Legislation outlines a pressing need for implementing renewable energy schemes to contribute to legally binding obligations. Despite this, the planning policy environment for onshore wind is currently challenging and this necessitated a careful and considered approach to planning.
Wind turbines are large, dynamic structures which can cause a range of environmental impacts. The site is located near to the Severn Estuary European Marine site and development constraints therefore included potential effects on and linkages to this site, as well as protection of protected species and habitats, the location of the site within Flood Zone 3 and potential for historical site contamination.
Landmark prepared an EIA Scoping Report to inform scoping by the local planning authority in consultation with and statutory and non-statutory consultees. This early discussion ensured that the scope of the EIA was focussed to key matters that relate specifically to the site sensitivities. Further stakeholder consultation throughout the EIA kept consultees up to date and enabled impacts to be addressed prior to submission of a planning application.
In addition to EIA co-ordination and production of the Environmental Statement, Landmark’s ecology team assessed impacts on habitats, birds and protected species within the development site and its environs, including the internationally designated Severn Estuary European site. A full Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) was also prepared which considered the effect of the wind turbine on nearby highly sensitive residential areas, historic parks and gardens, public footpaths (including a National Cycle Route that crosses the site) and residential properties.
The ES and LVIA concluded that the proposed wind turbine could be accommodated without unacceptable environmental, landscape or visual impact, provided that recommended mitigation measures are secured. Key measures are the retention and reinstatement of landscape features (including boundary vegetation) and the diversion of a nearby rhine and associated hedgerow to minimise effects on ecology that may be using this feature for navigation or nesting purposes.
The robust EIA process demonstrated that the wind turbine can be accommodated within an ecologically sensitive landscape without unacceptable environmental impacts. This clear outcome, combined with comprehensive community consultation undertaken by Ambition Lawrence Weston resulted in a socially beneficial and environmentally acceptable scheme for which planning approval was granted by unanimous Committee decision in August 2020.