Small and Medium scale Wind and Solar Installations
For purposes of describing our services, we refer to micro scale wind turbines as not exceeding a total height of 25m, small turbines as up to 50m in total height, and medium turbines up to 85m in height. A small to medium scale wind proposal should not exceed a cluster of three turbines. Renewable UK defines the following categories:
|Category||Power (kW)||Annual energy production (kWh)||Total height (m)||Total installed cost (£k)|
|Micro||Up to 1.5||Up to 1,000||10-18||0.5-5|
|Small||1.5 to 15||Up to 50,000||12-25||2-50|
|Small to medium||Over 15 to 100||Up to 200,000||15-50||50-200|
Note: The average UK domestic household consumes approximately 4,400 kWh per year.
(Source: Renewable UK Small Wind Systems Market Report April 2011)
Turbines currently require planning permission, notwithstanding size. Landscape, visual and ecological issues may need to be addressed in some instances, for example where sensitive landscapes may be affected, where turbines are located close to linear features such as hedges, or where there may be visual issues with neighbours or cumulative impacts with other similar installations in the area.
Solar installations at the small and medium scale would often be roof-mounted, but may also be freestanding. We define small scale solar installations for purposes of our assessments as not exceeding 2ha in total area (up to 500kW), and medium scale not exceeding 6ha in total area (up to 2MW). Roof installations would mostly fall into the small installations category.
Solar roof installations may require ecological or landscape and visual input in some instances, for example in conservation areas, where neighbours overlook the installation or where the roof hosts a bat roost. For freestanding installations, brief appraisals may be required, where sensitive landscape or ecological features are nearby or the array is located in a designated area. Small domestic solar installations can be permitted development (see http://www.permitteddevelopment.org/Renewable-Energy-Permitted-Development.html).
As small and medium installations become more common, we anticipate planning authorities may require environmental input more frequently, showing that the installations do not have an adverse impact on the natural environment. To support such applications, we can prepare brief appraisals of landscape and visual issues, suited to the scale of proposals and focussed on site-specific issues such as neighbouring views, and we can undertake bat surveys as appropriate. Cumulative assessments may be required in a limited number of instances, where existing sites or other proposals are within the study area.
Guidance relevant to small and medium proposals can be found at
- Scottish Natural Heritage: Microrenewables and the Natural Heritage – http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A301202.pdf
- Scottish Natural Heritage: Siting and Designing Single and Groups of Small Turbines in the Landscape – Consultation Draft – http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A516125.pdf
- Scottish Natural Heritage: Natural Heritage assessment of small scale wind energy projects which do not require formal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) –
- Cornwall Guide for Bats and Small Turbines: Recommended approach for bats and single small wind turbines in Cornwall (Approximately 10-30m hub height or 5-100kW), Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Natural England and Cornwall Council, March 2011 – http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=12898
- British Wind Energy Association Small Wind Systems Market Report 2011 – http://www.bwea.com/pdf/publications/8942_Report_WEB.pdf
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