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In this paper we establish how effectively EIA is currently utilised in the deployment of onshore and offshore wind energy in the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany. In this context, the quality of EIA documentation and the coverage of a range of key EIA aspects of 20 developments are evaluated. Furthermore, the impact of EIA on decision making is established, based on opinions of decision makers and other stakeholders. We find that whilst there are certain weaknesses, overall EIA information is central to decision making, and EIA is resulting in major project modifications. Our results differ from the findings of most previous studies which usually observed a moderate impact on decision making only.
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EIA FOR WIND FARMS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
AND GERMANY
JOHN PHYLIP-JONES
*
and THOMAS FISCHER
University of Liverpool
Liverpool, United Kingdom
*
j.phylip-Jones@liverpool.ac.uk
Received 12 April 2013
Revised 17 April 2013
Accepted 18 April 2013
In this paper we establish how effectively EIA is currently utilised in the deployment of
onshore and offshore wind energy in the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany. In this
context, the quality of EIA documentation and the coverage of a range of key EIA aspects
of 20 developments are evaluated. Furthermore, the impact of EIA on decision making is
established, based on opinions of decision makers and other stakeholders. We nd that
whilst there are certain weaknesses, overall EIA information is central to decision making,
and EIA is resulting in major project modications. Our results differ from the ndings of
most previous studies which usually observed a moderate impact on decision making
only.
Keywords: Environmental Impact Assessment; Wind Energy; Effectiveness; UK;
Germany.
Introduction
Envir onmental Impact Assessment ( EIA) is a process which is aimed at identi-
fying th e likely envi ronmental impacts of de velopment p rojects (Wood, 2003).
EIA is engrain ed in planning systems across Europe based on the Directive 85/
337/EEC (amended three times and codied by Direct ive 2011/92/EU). To date,
whilst EIA processes have been scrutinised in particular from legal, procedural,
documentation quality and scal standpoints (see e.g. Sadler, 1996; Hickie, 1998;
*
Corresponding author.
Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management
Vol. 15, No. 2 (April 2013) 1340008 (30 pages)
© Imperial College Press
DOI: 10.1142/S1464333213400085
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Marsden, 1998; B arker and Wood, 1999; Rees, 1999; Baker and McLelland,
2003; Ret ief, 2007; Bina, 2008; Zhu and Ru, 2008; Cash more et al., 2004), less
attention has been paid to whether they are effective in terms of what they are
meant to achieve; namely to protect the environm ent and helping to achieve more
informed and balanced decision making (Arts et a l., 2012; see also Lyhne, 2011
for strategic environmental assessment SEA).
Although wind energy is considered an environmentally sustainable power
source, associated developments can give rise to an array of potential environ-
mental effects. The sustained policy drive towards increasing the uptake of re-
newable forms of energy therefore requires a careful consideration of their
environmental effects. There is some substantial activity in both, the UK and
Germany in relation to the deployment of wind energy in the territorial and marine
contexts. Most of the associated developments are subject to EIA. Figure 1 shows
Source: European Wind Energy Association (2012).
Fig. 1. Wind Power in Mega Watt (MW) installed in the UK and Germany and neighbouring
countries by the end of 2012.
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the installed capacities (both, onshore and offshore) for the UK and Germany and
neighbouring countries as at the end of 2012.
The environmental impacts of wind farms can be many and varied and envi-
ronmental assessments can help to mitigate negative impacts by leading to changes
of e.g. wind turbine locations and operations (Toke, 2006). Table 1 presents potential
impacts of onshore and offshore wind farm developments. Onshore impacts are
Table 1. Potential impacts of wind farm development.
Onshore Wind Farm Environmental Impacts
Noise Impacts Noise is one of the major impacts associated with wind farm development.
Shadow Flicker People who reside near wind farms have complained about experiencing shadow
icker due to blade rotation; some medical journals have stated that there could be adverse health
conditions associated with being subjected to shadow icker.
Impacts on Fauna Displacement of species may occur during both, the construction and oper-
ational phases of wind farms and may be caused by the presence of the turbines themselves
through visual, noise and vibration impacts, or as a result of vehicle and person movements.
Impacts on Flora Disturbance of local ecosystems can be caused by the construction and
operation of wind farms.
Visual Impact Wind Turbines are very large structures which can lead to signicant visual
impacts on a local and regional scale.
Electromagnetic Interference The rotating blades of wind farms can have an effect on electro-
magnetic waves and thus cause radar interference.
Offshore Wind Farm Environmental Impacts
Coastal and Offshore Processes Interference with the movement of sediments, such as sandbanks;
disturbance on sediments, uncovering of buried cables and changes to seabed morphology,
affecting navigation channels, as well as impacts on wave patterns, affecting ooding and coastal
defences.
Ecology Changes to seabed habitats, affecting food resources for wildlife; impact on shellsh
beds and spawning grounds; underwater noise and vibration impacts on sh, birds and marine
mammals; interference with sh migration; electric elds from cables may impact sharks and
rays; impacts on habitats and species from cable-laying and connecting infrastructure; potential
for bird strikes; implications for current or potential protected areas, such as Natura 2000 sites.
Cultural Heritage and Landscape Damage to coastal and maritime archaeological features;
landscape and seascape quality effects; consequences for areas of landscape designation, such as
areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks and heritage coasts; navigational and other
lighting effects
Other Uses of the Sea Displacement of shing activity; collision risk; interference with navi-
gational aids, shipping routes, ports and harbours; interference with recreation, such as yachting
and sea angling; restrictions on aggregate extraction and interference with military practice;
electromagnetic interference with radar and telecommunications
Source: Jay (2008).
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portrayed in terms of noise, shadow icker, ora and fauna, visual aspects and
electromagnetic interference. Furthermore, offshore impacts are described on the
basis of coastal and offshore processes, as well as in terms of ecology, cultural
heritage, landscape and the interests of other users of the sea.
This paper contributes to bridging an existing knowledge gap by evaluating
wind farm EIAs with regards to the quality of their documentation, the coverage of
a range of key EIA aspects, and the overall impact on decision making in the UK
and Germany. Subsequently, rstly the case study methodology is explained,
consisting of the three above mentioned evaluation elements. These are then used
to analyse selected UK and German terrestrial and marine wind farm EIAs.
Whether the quality of EIA documentation is correlated with other key EIA
aspects and with regards to EIAs impact on decisions is discussed. Finally,
recommendations on how to improve the use of EIA are given.
Case Study Methodology
Twenty wind farms (ten onshore and ten offshore) were identied in the UK and
Germany that had been given planning approval and had been subjected to EIA.
Wind farms at a variety of different sizes were chosen in order to get a broad
perspective on the application of EIA. Three main methods were employed for
evaluating EIAs; (1) the application of a review package for establishing the
quality of the environmental statements (ES) produced; (2) the deployment of a
written questionnaire to the main stakeholders in wind farm development pro-
cesses; questions were compiled on the basis of a range of key EIA aspects; and
(3) interviews with main stakeholders involved in the EIAs on the overall impact
of EIA on decisions taken. The research underlying this paper was conducted
between 2009 and 2012 at the University of Liverpool.
Environmental statement reviews
In order to review the quality of Environmental Statements (ES), an updated
version of the Lee and Colley (1992) review package was used. This package was
chosen because it is specically designed for the review of ESs and is commonly
used and accepted. Published studies based on the application of the review
package include e.g. Marr (1997) and Barker and Wood (1999). Furthermore,
more recently this review package review has been adapted for review of strategic
environmental assessment (SEA) documentation (see Bonde and Cherp, 2000
and Fischer, 2010). By utilizing the package, reviewers are able to assess whether
an ES fulls a number of important quality criteria with regards to its content,
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the prediction of impacts and the presentation of information. The package helps
to identify additional information that may be required for the ES from the de-
veloper, such as impacts which have not been satisfactorily addressed and where
further information may be required. Quality review is performed using a set of
hierarchically arranged review topics. Table 2 presents the main categories and
sub-categories used and also indicate show many questions contribute to a sub-
category. In total 52 questions are to be answered.
The review topics are arranged hierarchically and then assigned a quality grade,
ranging from A (best possible grade) to F (worst possible grade). All grades are
presented in Table 3.
The review package was applied to the 20 wind farm ESs, assigning quality
grades to each question, sub-category, category and the statement overall. The
overall grade is not necessarily an average grade, as a shortcoming in any of the
questions may lead to a downgrade overall. Quality reviews were conducted by
two reviewers, with nal grades being agreed between them.
Questionnaire survey
Based on a comprehensive literature review, a set of criteria were developed for
evaluating key aspects of EIA. Aspects reect what the literature describes as best
practice, and which are at times also referred to as effectiveness criteria
(Cashmore et al., 2009; Fischer and Gazzola, 2006; Retief, 2007; Wood, 2003;
Zhu and Ru, 2008). The extent of conformance of the wind farm EIAs with these
aspects was established, using the perspective of those most closely involved in
them, the developers, decision makers and consultees. For this purpose, a ques-
tionnaire was used. A Likert scale scoring system was applied, involving four
choices. Responses most in conformity with an aspect were weighted with a score
of 3 and responses least in conformity were given a score of 0. Then, for all
aspects, total scores were calculated for each EIA. The maximum possible score
for the combined responses from the stakeholders was 30, which would equate to
100%. A percentage from this maximum score was used to express the extent of
conformance. Table 4 shows the criteria used.
Interviews
Interviews were organised with stakeholders involved in the 20 EIAs. Three sta-
keholders were interviewed for each case, including the developer, the decision
maker and a main environmental consultee. A total of 60 interviews were thus
conducted. Questions were related to the EIA criteria introduced above and thus
revolved around scoping, the choice of alternatives, the preparation of the ES,
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Table 2. Main categories and sub-categories of the Lee and Colley Review Package.
Main Lee and Colley review package categories
1. Description of the development, local environment and baseline conditions
1.1 Description of the development: The purposes of the development should be described
as should the physical characteristics, scale and design (5 questions).
1.2 Site description: The on-site land requirements of the development should be described
and the duration of each land use (5 questions).
1.3 Wastes: The types and quantities of wastes which might be produced should be esti-
mated, and the proposed disposal routes to the environment described (3 questions).
1.4 Environmental Description: The area and location of the environment likely to be
affected by the development proposals should be described (2 questions).
1.5 Baseline conditions: a description of the affected environment as it is currently and as
it could be expected to develop if the project were not to proceed, should be presented
(3 questions).
2. Identication and evaluation of key impacts
2.1 Denition of impacts: Potential impacts of the development on the environment should
be investigated and described (5 questions).
2.2 Identication of impacts: Methods should be used which are capable of identifying all
signicant impacts (2 questions).
2.3 Scoping: Not all impacts should be studied in equal depth. Key impacts should be
identied, taking into account the views of interested parties, and the main investigation
centered on these (3 questions).
2.4 Prediction of impact magnitude: The likely impacts of the development on the envi-
ronment should be described in exact terms wherever possible (3 questions).
2.5 Assessment of impact signicance: The expected signicance that the projected impacts
will have for society should be estimated (2 questions).
3. Alternatives and mitigation of impacts
3.1 Alternatives: Feasible alternatives to the proposed project should have been considered
(3 questions).
3.2 Scope and effectiveness of mitigation measures: All signicant adverse impacts should
be considered for mitigation (3 questions).
3.3 Commitment to mitigation: Developers should be committed to, and capable of
carrying out the mitigation measures and should present plans of how they propose to
do so (2 questions).
4. Communication of results
4.1 Layout: The layout of the statement should enable the reader to nd and assimilate data
easily and quickly. External data sources should be acknowledged (4 questions).
4.2 Presentation: Care should be taken in the presentation of information to make sure that
it is accessible to the non-specialist (3 questions).
4.3 Emphasis: Information should be presented without bias and receive the emphasis
appropriate to its importance in the context of the ES (2 questions).
4.4 Non-technical summary: There should be a clearly written non-technical summary of
the main ndings of the study and how they were reached (2 questions).
Source: Lee and Colley (1992).
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Table 3. Lee and Colley review package grading system.
Grade Explanation
A Relevant tasks well performed, no important tasks left incomplete
B Generally satisfactory and complete, only minor omissions and inadequacies.
C Can be considered just satisfactory despite omissions and/or inadequacies.
D Parts are well attempted but must, as a whole, be considered just unsatisfactory
because of omissions or inadequacies.
E Not satisfactory, signicant omissions or inadequacies.
F Very unsatisfactory, important task(s) poorly done or not attempted.
N/A Not applicable.
Source: Lee and Colley (1992).
Table 4. EIA criteria scoring system.
Response Options Score
Scoping
Scoping was conducted following
established procedures.
Procedures fully complied with. 3
Procedures mostly complied with. 2
Procedures partly complied with. 1
Procedures not followed at all. 0
The scoping opinions provided were fully
taken into account in the EIA/SEA.
All scoping opinions were taken into
account.
3
Majority of scoping opinions taken into
account.
2
Minority of scoping opinions taken into
account.
1
None of the opinions taken into account. 0
Alternatives
All concerned stakeholders had the
opportunity to provide their opinions
on the alternatives set out.
All stakeholders had an opportunity 3
Majority of stakeholder had an opportunity 2
Minority of stakeholders had an opportunity 1
No stakeholders had an opportunity 0
The assessment of alternatives led to the
most environmentally sustainable
option being selected.
Fully Agree 3
Moderately Agree 2
Slightly Agree 1
Disagree 0
Impact Prediction
The predictions were suitably specic
and accurate in order that they could
be used to assist decision making.
Very specic impact prediction presented 3
Majority of impact predictions specic2
Minority of impact predictions specic1
Vague impact predictions provided 0
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the prediction of impacts, participation/consultation, mitigation and monitoring.
Furthermore, opinions on the inuence of EIA on decision making and on the
contribution of EIA to environmental protection were sought. Interviews also
provided for an opportunity to clarify any questions in relation to the earlier
Table 4. (Continued )
Response Options Score
A clear and concise summary of the
impacts of the proposal was provided.
Full summary provided 3
Majority of impacts summarised 2
Minority of impacts summarised 1
No summary provided 0
Participation/Consultation
The public were invited to be involved in
the EIA process and discussions on
the proposal.
Fully agree with this statement agree 3
Moderately agree with this statement 2
Slightly agree with this statement 1
Disagree with this statement 0
The opinions of the public were
considered and incorporated into
the EIA process.
All opinions raised by the public were fully
considered
3
Majority of public opinion was considered 2
Minority of public opinion was considered 1
No of public opinions were considered 0
Mitigation
The mitigation measures proposed were
viewed as sufcient.
Fully Agree with this statement 3
Moderately Agree with this statement 2
Slightly Agree with this statement 1
Disagree with this statement 0
The EIA/SEA process led to mitigation
measures being created.
A full range of mitigation measures 3
A majority of mitigation measures 2
A minority of mitigation measures 1
No mitigation measures implemented 0
Monitoring
The monitoring programme devised was
viewed as sufcient.
Fully agree with this statement 3
Moderately agree with this statement 2
Slightly Agree with this statement 1
Disagree with this statement 0
Monitoring of impacts post construction
will take place.
A full monitoring programme was initiated 3
Moderate monitoring was initiated 2
Minor monitoring procedure took place 1
No monitoring of wind farm operation 0
Source: Based primarily on Barker and Wood (1999), Wood (2003), Cashmore et al. (2004), Zhu
and Ru (2008).
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questionnaire survey. There were three interview sheets, one for each stakeholder
type. These are shown in Box 1.
Box 1. EIA Stakeholder Interview Questions.
Wind Farm Developer Questions
1. Were the scoping opinions provided by consultees useful?
2. How were these scoping opinions incorporated into the EIA?
3. What alternatives to the proposal did you consider and assess?
4. Was assessing alternatives useful and did it lead to the best environmental
option being chosen?
5. What techniques did you use in order to inform the public about the proposed
development?
6. Were the responses received from stat utory and non statutory consultees
useful?
7. What was your opinion on the quality of the information in the Environmental
Statement?
8. Was compiling the Environmental Statement useful ?
9. How accurate did you feel the impact predictions that were made were?
10. What were the main impact categories that were assessed?
11. What mitigation measures were formulated in relation to this proposal?
12. Did you implement all of the proposed mitigation measures?
13. What monitoring arrangements did you implement?
14. Were there provisions for monitoring post construction and during the oper-
ational phase?
15. To what extent did you feel that the EIA ndings inuenced decision making?
16. Do you feel that the EIA process assisted in the decision making process?
17. What were the main identiable environmental improvements that took place?
18. Do you feel that conducting EIA lead to environmental improvement?
19. What were the main learning outcomes that you experienced as a result of
undertaking the EIA?
20. Do you have additional condence to partake in further EIA studies?
Decision Maker Questions
1. Did you feel that the developer had scoped in the key issues for assessment?
2. Did you feel that your scoping opinion on what should be included in the EIA
was addressed?
3. What were the main alternatives that were studied in the EIA?
4. Did you feel that the alternatives studied were sufcient?
5. Did the Environmental Report provide you with sufcient information on
which to make a decision?
6. What was your view on the quality of the Environmental Statement submitted?
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Box 1. (Continued)
7. Did you feel that the public were given adequate opportunity to comment on
the proposals
8. Did you feel that statutory and non statutory consultees had adequate oppor-
tunity to comment?
9. Did you feel that the impact predictions were accurate?
10. What impacts did the developer focus on in the EIA?
11. Did the developer implement all of the mitigation measures proposed?
12. What were the conditions that you attached to the wind farm planning consent?
13. What monitoring arrangements did the developer propose?
14. Were these monitoring arrangements adequate in your view?
15. What level of inuence did the EIA exert on decision making?
16. Did the EIA provide you with sufcient project information on which to make
a decision?
17. Do you feel that the EIA process led to environmental improvement?
18. What were the main modications that were made to the project as a result of
the ndings of the EIA?
19. What did you learn from conducting the EIA process?
20. Do you think your knowledge base has increased as a result of undertaking EIA?
Consultee Questions
1. Do you feel your scoping responses had been fully incorporated in the EIA by
the developer?
2. Do you feel you were consulted at an appropriate time d uring the application
process?
3. Do you feel that the alternatives assessment performed by the developer was
sufcient?
4. Did you provide any comments on the alternatives proposed by the developer?
5. What was your view on the quality of the Environmental Statement?
6. Did the Environmental Report take into account the consultation responses that
you made?
7. Do you feel that you had been given adequate opportunity to consult on the
project?
8. In your opinion, were the public given adequate opportunity to make opinions?
9. Do you feel that the impact prediction techniques used by the developer were
sufcient?
10. Did your consultation responses have an inuence over the impact predictions
that were made?
11. Do you feel that the mitigation measures proposed by the developer were
adequate?
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Box 1. (Continued)
12. Did your consultation responses have any inuence over the mitigation mea-
sures implemented?
13. Do you feel that the monitoring arrangements proposed by the developer were
adequate?
14. Did your opinions on monitoring get taken into account by the developer?
15. Do you think that the EIA process inuenced decision making?
16. Do you think the responses that you provided inuenced decision making on
the proposal?
17. What were the main learning outcomes that you experienced?
18. Do you think that you now have a greater level of experience in order to
conduct future EIAs?
Source: Based primarily on Barker and Wood (1999), Wood (2003),
Cashmore et al. (2004), Wende (2002).
Wind Farm EIAs
Figure 2 shows the locations of the 10 UK onshore and offshore wind farms.
Further details on these are presented in Table 5. Stakeholders that were sent the
questionnaire and who were subsequently interviewed are also listed.
Decision makers for four of the ve onshore cases were the relevant Secretary
of State (SoS; including the Scottish Government, the Northern Ireland Planning
Service and the Department of Energy and Climate Change for England). In case
of the West Durham Wind Farm, the decision maker was the relevant local au-
thority. The reason for this is that the wind farm was below 50 MW output,
therefore not requiring the involvement of the SoS. In those cases were the Sec-
retaries of State were the decision makers, the consultees that participated in the
study were the local authorities in which the wind farm was proposed.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was the decision
maker for all offshore wind farms in the UK. Therefore, the questionnaire survey
and interviews were organised with representatives of DECC who had been in-
volved in the particular wind farm case. The consultees that were chosen for the
interviews were the local authorities whose geographical location abutted the
coastline where the proposed development was intended.
Figure 3 shows the locations of the 10 German wind farm EIAs. Projects and
main stakeholders are summarised in Table 6. All offshore wind farms were
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Source: Phylip-Jones (2012).
Fig. 2. Location of UK wind farms.
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Table 5. Wind farm details & stakeholders who were sent questionnaires/were interviewed.
Name of wind farm Number of Turbines Power output Developer Decision maker Consultees
Onshore Wind Farms
Whitelee Wind Farm 140 turbines 322 MW Scottish Power
Renewables
Scottish Government East Ayrshire
Council
Cefn Croes Wind Farm 39 turbines 58.5 MW West Coast Energy Department for Trade and
Industry
Ceredigion County
Council
West Durham Wind Farm 12 turbines 24 MW Banks Group Durham County Council Royal Society for
the Protection of
Birds (RSPB).
Slieve Rushen Wind Farm 18 turbines 54 MW Sean Quinn Group Northern Ireland Planning
Service
Fermanagh District
Council
Scout Moor Wind Farm 26 turbines 65 MW Banks Developments Department for Energy
and Climate Change
Lancashire County
Council
Offshore Wind Farms
Gwynt y Mor 160 576 MW RWE N Power
Renewables
DECC Conwy County
Council
London Array 175 630 MW Dong Energy DECC Swale Borough
Council
Sheringham Shoal 88 317 MW Scira Offshore Energy DECC North Norfolk
District Council
Burbo Bank 25 90 MW Dong Energy DECC Wirral Borough
Council
Kentish Flats 100 300 MW Vattenfall DECC Kent County
Council
Source: Phylip-Jones (2012).
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planned in the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The principal decision
maker for granting permission for the construction of wind farms in the German
EEZ is the Federal Maritime Hydrography Agency (BSH). The questionnaire
survey and the interviews were conducted with key personnel of the BSH who
had been involved in the respective decision making processes, as well as with
representatives of the developers and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.
Regional (Landkreis) planning authorities were the decision makers for the
approval processes of onshore wind farms. The wind farm developers and the State
Ofce for Mining and Geology, a statutory consultee, were other stakeholders in
the EIA processes.
The developers in the case of the German offshore wind energy developments
(all located in the German EEZ) were not legally required to consult with the
coastal authorities as is the case of the UK. However, the German Federal Agency
for Nature Conservation was identied as a body which had been involved in each
development.
Source: Phylip-Jones (2012).
Fig. 3. Location of the German wind farms.
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Table 6. German Wind Farm EIAs and stakeholders involved.
Name of wind farm
Number of
Turbines
Power
output (MW) Developer Decision maker Consultee
Onshore Wind Farms
Apensen 21 34.65 MW Enercon Landkreis Emsland State ofce for Mining, Energy and Geology
Wiesmoor 8 16 MW RWE Landkreis Ammerland State Ofce for Mining, Energy and Geology
Sulingen 23 13.8 MW Enercon Landkreis Diepholz State Ofce for Mining, Energy and Geology
Niederlangen 40 60 MW RWE Landkreis Verden State Ofce for mining, Energy and Geology
Westerholtz 22 35.6 MW Enercon Landkreis Cuxhaven State Ofce for Mining Energy and Geology
Offshore Wind Farms
MEG Offshore 80 400 MW NP Energy BSH Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
Gode Wind 160 800 MW PNE Wind AG BSH Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
Borkum Riffgrund 80 400 MW EWE BSH Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
Nordsee Ost 48 295 MW RWE BSH Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
Arkona Becken 80 400 MW E.ON BSH Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
Source: Phylip-Jones (2012).
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Key Findings of Quality Reviews, Questionnaire Survey
and Interviews
In this section rstly, the results of the ES quality reviews are presented. Then,
questionnaire survey and interview ndings are summarised in terms of the cov-
erage of key EIA aspects and the perceived inuence on decision making.
Quality of environmental statements
Figure 4 presents the results of the ES quality reviews. 90% of the ESs (i.e. 18
of 20) were found to be of a satisfactory quality (i.e. they scored between grades A
to C). Three ESs were graded A, seven B, eight C and two D, indicating that two
were of an unsatisfactory quality. The quality of three UK Offshore Wind Farm
ESs was particularly good, with all of them receiving an A grade. This appears to
be due mainly to the experiences of the companies responsible for the UK offshore
wind farm EIAs. These are very experienced with wind energy projects and so
were well versed in the requirements needed to ensure high standards.
There has only been one previous published study on environmental assessment
of wind farms, which dates back to 1993 (Coles and Taylor, 1993). This found that
ESs were of poor quality and that they were not considering visual and noise
issues. At the time, this was put down to the fact that experience in examining wind
farm proposals was limited. We, on the other hand, found that whilst there were
also some weaknesses associated with the assessment of noise and visual impacts,
overall practice appears to have improved markedly over the past 20 years.
0
1
2
3
Grade A Grade B Grade C Grade D
Number of ESs
UK Onshore Wind Farm EIAs UK Offshore Wind Farm EIAs
German Onshore Wind Farm EIAs German Offshore Wind Farm EIAs
N=20
Fig. 4. Quality of wind farm Environmental Statements.
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Generally speaking, the quality of ESs for wind energy projects appears to be
high when compared with those in other sectors (see e.g. Thompson and Treweek,
1997; Lee and Dancey, 1993). This is especially true for UK practice, which has
previously been found to produce ESs that are only of an average quality (see e.g.
Barker and Wood, 1999).
Questionnaire survey and interview ndings
In this section, questionnaire survey and interview ndings are presented with
regards to scoping, the choice of alternatives, the perceived accuracy of the pre-
diction of impacts, participation and consultation, the establishment of mitigation
measures and monitoring (see Table 4). Furthermore, perceptions on the overall
impact of EIA are established. Figure 5 shows the average conformance scores for
the six key EIA aspects. This was calculated following the scoring system intro-
duced in Table 4. Subsequently, each of these aspects are discussed further.
Scoping
Overall, scoping was considered to be conducted well, obtaining an evaluation
score of 76% (see Fig. 5), with 3 of the 20 wind farms gaining a score of 100% for
this stage. According to interviewees, this was due to scoping ensuring that the key
environmental impacts were appropriately focused upon, with less attention being
given to the insignicant environmental impacts. 17 of the 20 consultees (i.e. 85%)
76
62
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52
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100
Scoping Alternaves Impact
Predicon
Parcipaon
and
Consultaon
Migaon Monitoring
% conformance
Fig. 5. Average conformance scores for key EIA aspects.
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were satised that the wind farm developers sufciently incorporated their scoping
opinions into the EIAs. Furthermore, developers said they took the opportunity to
use the comments of consultees during scoping in order to frame their EIAs. This
nding is different from what other previous studies found (see e.g. Sadler, 1996;
Wood et al., 2006) and where scoping was deemed to be an area of weak practice.
One of the key reasons for the overall good performance of scoping is that
developers thought it benetted them in the pursuit of project approval. A UK
wind farm developer emphasised the importance of the scoping opinions provided
when stating: The scoping opinions we received were very carefully considered
and addressed in the EIA because we realise the importance of ensuring that the
scope of the assessment is correct and addresses the key concerns of the con-
sultees. After all, it is in our interest to ensure the EIA covers the main areas of
contention (UK Wind Farm Developer, interviewed on 2/2/2010 by permission).
In both, the UK and Germany developers made sure scoping responses provided
by consultees were addressed in their assessments.
Alternatives in EIA
Figure 6 shows the types of alternatives assessed in wind farm EIAs. The most
commonly considered were the no development alternative and alternative
wind turbines numbers. The least common alternative was different wind farm
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3
4
5
Number of alternaves
UK Onshore EIAs
German Onshore EIAs
UK Offshore EIAs
German Offshore EIAs
Fig. 6. Types and frequency of alternatives studied in the EIA process.
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locations. Only two of the 20 wind farms considered this option, both being
offshore. Overall, an average key EIA aspects score of 62% (see Fig. 6) was
obtained for the treatment of alternatives in the 20 EIAs studied. With regards to
the German onshore wind farms, none of the associated EIAs covered alternative
wind farm locations. These ndings echo those of previous studies which also
suggested that alternatives treatment needed to be improved in EIA (Steinmann,
2001; Glasson et al., 1999). However, the reason here is not that these were not
considered, but that priority zones for wind farms are already set out in regional
plans, which are subject to strategic environmental assessment (SEA; Siemoneit
and Fischer, 2001). Wind farm planning in Germany therefore is an example for
deliberate SEA and EIA tiering (Fischer, 2002, 2003). In this context, Geißler
et al. (2013) stated that Germany is well prepared in terms of providing the means
to develop low carbon energy options in an environmentally benign approach,
achieved by a systematically tiered approach with strategic level planning and
subsequent project approval for wind energy projects.
Perceived accuracy of impact predictions
Figure 7 presents the results of the decision makers perceptions on the accuracy
of the impact predictions included in the EIAs.
Twelve of the 20 decision makers (i.e. 60%) stated that the ESs produced by the
developers gave an accurate reection of the main impacts of the development.
0
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2
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4
All Impacts were accurately portrayed Some Impacts Under Represented
Number of
respondents
UK Onshore Wind Farm Decision Makers UK Offshore Wind Farm Decision Makers
German Onshore Wind Farm Decision Makers German Offshore Wind Farm Decision Makers
Fig. 7. Decision maker perceptions on the accuracy of impact predictions.
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Eight (40%), on the other hand, said that some impact types were under repre-
sented. Main areas of concern were connected with visual and noise impacts,
especially in relation to onshore wind farm developments. Overall, an evaluation
score of 54% (see Fig. 5) was obtained. Our ndings draw a somewhat more
positive picture with regards to the accuracy of impact predictions than earlier
studies (e.g. Bisset and Tomlinson, 1988; Dipper et al., 1998; see also Fischer,
2009), but there is clearly still scope for improvement.
Many decision makers said they had asked for supplementary environmental
information to be provided during the EIA process. With regards to an offshore
wind farm, for example, a UK planning ofcer emphasised that There was a
deliberate underplaying of the impacts of the proposed wind farm on the landscape
and seascape and a converse deliberate overstatement of the generation benets.
However, the ES comprised of a well-funded public relations exercise and bro-
chure for development (Planning Ofcer, 29.3.10). Other concerns were raised in
relation to noise impacts, with one UK planning ofcer suggesting with regards to
an onshore wind farm EIA: The guidance for the assessment of noise impacts
used for this development, ETSU 97, is 15 years old and used even though the
wind turbines deployed today are far bigger than they were when the guidance was
produced, and create far greater noise output than this guidance was designed to
assess (Planning Ofcer, 17.2.12).
Cumulative impacts were also thought to be under represented, with one plan-
ning ofcer stating: The ES included minimal assessment of cumulative impacts
even though there are two wind farms already operating off the coastline, the
developer did not perform a thorough assessment of cumulative impacts (Planning
Ofcer, 29.3.10). This nding correlates with a previous study by Chadwick (2002)
in which only 24% of ESs mentioned cumulative impacts and only 18% provided a
discussion of them, which was mostly qualitative only (similarly also in Piper, 2001
and Bonnel and Storey, 2000).
Participation and consultation
An overall effectiveness score of 62% was obtained in relation to public partici-
pation and consultation (see Fig. 5). In addition, 13 of the 20 consultees (i.e. 65%)
were satised that their consultation responses had been taken into account by the
developer and had been dealt with in the EIA process (see consultation questions,
box 1). However, 35% of consultees stated that they considered that the developer
could have done more to address their concerns. In particular, four of the ve
consultees for the UK Offshore Wind Farms were dissatised with the manner in
which their responses had been dealt with and felt marginalised in the process.
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This is an important nding as the consultees were the local planning authorities
whose jurisdictions abutted coastal waters (and therefore directly affected by the
proposals). However, the majority of consultees were satised with the consul-
tation processes and in most cases rigorous public participation was conducted,
including workshops and meetings held to gain public responses to the proposed
developments. Their concerns and opinions were said to be fully considered and
incorporated into the EIAs.
Mitigation measures
Figure 8 shows the extent to which a total of seven mitigation measures were
proposed in the 20 wind farm EIAs.
Overall, a total of 87 mitigation measures were put forward. The most common
were a re-instatement of the site post operational life and restrictions with regards
to the operational life of the project (both found in all 20 wind farms). Next,
reductions in the number of turbines (in 15 cases) and restrictions to construction
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Number of migaon measures
German Offshore Wind Farm EIA German Onshore Wind Farm EIA
UK Offshore Wind Farm EIA UK Onshore Wind Farm EIA
Fig. 8. Type and extent of mitigation measures in wind farm EIAs.
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activities (in 10 cases) were considered. Least common were measures relating to
electrical cable routing (in six cases), changes in the wind farm layout and con-
ditions on the type and size of wind turbines used (both in seven cases). Overall,
EIA was seen to clearly having an important role in devising mitigation measures
and an evaluation score of 71% (see Fig. 5) was obtained.
Monitoring
The monitoring of impacts after construction and during the operational phase of
wind farm development was found to be weak in a number of the EIA cases
studied, obtaining an evaluation score of 52% (see Fig. 5). Whilst previous studies
also found that EIA monitoring was weak (Ahammed, 2006; Dipper et al., 1998;
Thompson and Treweek, 1997), overall our ndings show a slightly more positive
picture than those, in particular with regards to one UK Onshore Wind Farm which
attained 100% as a highly detailed monitoring strategy had been devised, with
monitoring arrangements for each impact area being delineated. This EIA also
contained a post construction and operational phase monitoring strategy for each
impact type. In contrast, another UK Onshore Wind Farm EIA (51% conformance)
proposed that impacts would be monitored but provided no details of how this
would be undertaken and no monitoring strategy for the operational life of the
wind farm was proposed. In the majority of the EIA cases studied, it was found
that the monitoring strategy for the wind farms post construction was limited,
which is reected in the lower conformance score presented in Fig. 5.
In the case of German Offshore Wind Farm EIAs, impact monitoring platforms
in the North Sea were constructed (funded by the Federal Ministry for the Envi-
ronment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety). These constitute an extensive
programme of marine monitoring and EIA monitoring can draw on this. The
German Offshore Wind Farm developers felt that having these platforms helped
them both, to monitor impacts as well as to predict impacts.
Overall, decision makers thought that there was a lack of commitment by some
developers to monitor impacts in the operational phase. One consultee to a German
Onshore Wind Farm stated: A repowering programme, to t the existing ap-
proved wind farm with larger blades, providing a larger power output, has now
been undertaken, and the developer has not been required to monitor the impacts
of this activity (German Onshore Wind Farm Consultee, 16.6.11). Figure 9
shows the repowering being undertaken.
Our results thus indicate that the degree to which monitoring was undertaken
varied, from being extensively applied during the construction phase to being
rarely done after construction (including repowering in Germany).
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Inuence of EIA on decision making
Decision makers in wind farm application processes were asked about the extent to
which they thought EIA overall had inuenced their decisions. Figure 10 sum-
marises their replies. Of the 20 decision makers consulted, 10 felt EIA had a major,
seven a moderate and three a minor inuence on the decisions taken. A planning
ofcer representing a UK County Council remarked that he felt the EIA document
had been of a central focus of much of the debate as to the whether or not to
provide consent for the wind farm as it provided us with far more information on
the potential implications of the project than would have been the case without
EIA (Planning Ofcer, 18.7.10). This comment highlights the importance of good
quality and accurate EIA documentation. Our ndings are rather different from
what previous studies had observed with regards to the overall impact of EIA on
decision making which has usually been portrayed as being moderate at best
(Leknes, 2001).
Correlation between key EIA aspects conformance scores, ES quality
and EIA impact on decision making
With regards to any possible correlation between the quality of the ESs and the
extent to which key EIA aspects were met we found that those two ESs that were
of an unsatisfactory quality (i.e. grade D) obtained low scores of 51% and 45%
Source: Phylip-Jones (2012).
Fig. 9. Repowering of a wind farm in Germany.
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only. Furthermore, two of the UK offshore ESs that were found to be of the best
quality (i.e. grade A) obtained high scores of 79% and 76%. However, the other
highest quality ES obtained a low EIA key aspects conformance score of 50%
only. This is mainly down to the fact that although the ES covered all of the main
impact prediction areas, the stakeholders were of the view that the impact pre-
dictions were underestimated. Furthermore, we also found that those EIAs that had
received an ES quality grade of B on average obtained a key aspect score of 73%;
and those that had received a grade of C obtained a score of 65%, i.e. there was
some correlation here, too. However, there was no automatism, with individual
cases not necessarily having a close correlation. One EIA, for example, where the
quality of the ES was grade B obtained a conformance score of 59% only and one
other case where the quality was grade C obtained a score of 80%.
With regards to the impact of EIA on decision making, most interviewees felt
that the EIA process provided them effectively with the environmental information
they needed. Furthermore, they were of the opinion that decision making was
effectively informed. One German Offshore wind farm decision maker considered
the EIA document to be a central focus of much of the debate as to the suitability
of consenting the wind farm in our area (Consents Manager, Federal Maritime
and Hydrography Agency, 19.9.09). Overall, we found that the perceived impact
of EIA on decision making was mostly correlated with both, the quality of the EIA
documentation (i.e. the ES) and the extent to which EIAs conformed with EIA key
aspects. However, again there was no automatism of this correlation, with indi-
vidual cases at times diverting.
0
1
2
3
Major Moderate Minor None
Number of respondents
Effect of EIA on decision making
UK Onshore EIA Decision Makers German Onshore EIA decision makers
UK offshore EIA decision makers German Offshore EIA decision makers
N=20
Fig. 10. Decision makers perceptions on the overall inuence of EIA.
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Discussion
In this section, the results presented above are discussed further. Overall, as has
been shown, different from what most other studies had established, ESs were
found to be of a good quality. Our ndings therefore suggest that although
weaknesses do still exist, developers appear to have become more accustomed to
producing good quality ESs.
In the majority of cases, the EIAs formed a central element of wind farm
approval. This nding differs from previous studies which had suggested that
EIA had only a limited inuence on decision making. Leknes (2001), for example,
had suggested that EIA had played only a minor role in decision making pro-
cesses for petroleum eld development. However, he also stated that the ESs did
constitute a necessary and vital part of the decision making process and that
decisions on the petroleum elds were inuenced by the documentation obtained
during the EIA process. Furthermore, Cashmore et al. (2009) observed that EIA
was resulting in some ne tuning of developments only and Wood and Jones
(1997) established that ESs only played a minor role in decision making UK local
planning authority decisions. An exception was in the setting of conditions for
planning permissions. Many other previous studies had concluded that EIA had a
moderate impact on decision making, including e.g. Lee (1995), Sadler (1996),
Weston (1997), Heuvelhof and Nauta (1997), Barker and Wood (1999), Glasson
et al. (1999), Leknes (2001), Christensen et al. (2005), Fischer (2009), Köppel
et al. (2012) and Arts et al. (2012).
Our ndings thus point to a possible shift in the importance given to EIA in
decision making, at least with regards to wind farm developments in the UK and
Germany. However, despite of an overall positive emerging picture, stakeholder
responses showed that there were still weaknesses, especially relating to impact
prediction. Although the ESs reviewed for offshore wind farms in the UK achieved
high scores, the opinions of stakeholders involved in these ESs did not always
fully reect quality review results. In one case, impact predictions, especially in
relation to noise and visual impact, were deemed by some respondents to have
been under-represented in the EIA by the developer. In this context, a consultee for
a UK onshore wind farm stated that: The visual representations provided in the
photomontages by the developer were done using a wide angled camera lens,
which served to reduce the appearance of the wind turbines in the landscape (UK
Onshore Wind Farm Consultee, 17.2.11).
Similarly, a Planning Ofcer involved in the decision making process for a UK
Onshore Wind Farm stated that: We were concerned with the noise assessments
performed for this wind farm as they were outdated methods of assessment which
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have not been updated to take into account the fact that modern wind turbines are
far bigger than they were when the existing guidelines were created. We therefore
asked the developer to submit further environmental information regarding the
noise impacts of this development (Planning Ofcer, 3.6.10). Some respondents
were also sceptical about the accuracy of some impact predictions presented in the
EIAs by developers. This is in line with Poder and Lukkis (2011) observations
who stated there are some methodological problems, including the omission of
several important aspects, such as quality of information, uncertainty and prob-
ability of predictions, types of alternatives considered, and public participation.
Also, there are some indications that a good quality ES may help to assist EIA
having a major impact on decision making.
Conclusions and Recommendations
In this paper we have shown that, in the majority of 20 wind farm EIAs in the UK
and Germany, the quality of the EIA documentation was good. Furthermore, EIA
application resulted in major modications to development proposals and EIA
ndings exerted a major inuence on decision making. EIA was thus found to
have a signicant role in altering wind farm developments. In many cases, EIAs
resulted in a reduction in the number of wind turbines or in alterations to the
layouts of the wind farms.
Our results differ from the ndings of earlier studies that found that EIA
exerted a moderate impact at best (Leknes, 2001; Wood and Jones, 1997),
resulting in a modest ne tuning of development proposals only. We, on the other
hand, found that the majority of the decision-makers were of the opinion that the
environmental statements formed a key basis for their decisions. They said that
EIA provided them with information that led to different decisions than would
have been the case if EIA had not been undertaken. With regards to specic EIA
aspects, scoping was found to be done particularly well, with some weaknesses
being observed with regards to impact prediction and monitoring. Overall, we also
established that the quality of the EIA documentation (i.e. the ES), the extent to
which EIA conformed with EIA key aspects and the overall impact of EIA on
decision making were correlated to some extent. Based on our ndings, the following
recommendations for improving EIA application to wind energy developments are
made:
(1) Provisions for continuous monitoring of wind farm development impacts
during their operational life should be clearly laid out. Currently, wind farm
developers often do not monitor the environmental impacts of wind farms
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during their operational phases (which can be up to 25 years). This may be
achieved by the consenting authority ensuring that approval for the wind farm
contains adequate conditions for EIA follow up.
(2) Efforts should be put into increasing the accuracy of impact predictions. This
may be achieved through an independent verication of the impact predictions
provided by developers; methods used for predicting impacts should always
be always up-to-date.
(3) EIAs should explicitly refer to earlier SEAs; this applies in particular to
German onshore wind farm EIAs, which are tiered with SEA of regional
plans.
(4) Cumulative impacts should be clearly addressed in wind farm EIAs.
A more generic suggestion is that we see a need for the development of a review
package for establishing the overall effectiveness of EIA in practice. Currently,
review packages largely focus on the quality of the documentation provided only.
Overall, we conclude that EIA as applied in the wind energy sector in the UK and
Germany is playing a key role in the evolution of planning applications and
contributes towards more informed decision making. EIAs are being appreciated
by decision making bodies as an important source of information on the envi-
ronmental implications of development and they play a signicant role in ensuring
that wind farm developments are made more environmentally sustainable. Further
research into the effectiveness of EIA in practice is warranted.
Acknowledgements
The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for the helpful comments.
We are also grateful to all agencies who agreed to participate in this research.
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... Furthermore, allocating these symbols depends on the extent to which individual EIARs complied with certain criteria. For instance, in the present study, for EIARs to be regarded as having satisfactory quality, they had to comply with the following requirements and best practices recognized in the literature [28,78]. ...
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Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a procedure for predicting environmental impacts of projects prior to their development, while post-auditing seeks to assess the accuracy of such predictions. A literature review examines the need for post-auditing, highlighting several benefits to EIA performance that could arise if the results were effectively used. This reveals that, in practice, post-auditing activities are not widespread, and suggests reasons why this is so. An overview of post-audit findings from a survey of published studies is then presented, and it is concluded that there is much scope for raising the profile of post-auditing in EIA world-wide. Preliminary results from a recent UK post-auditing study based on eight projects are described. Information on impact predictions was gathered and compared with actual impacts. A total of 366 impact predictions were made of which 78% were qualitative in nature; 57% of the predictions were auditable and of these nearly three-quarters were accurate. Reasons for inauditability were ascertained including, for all cases, a lack of data or unsuitable information.
This article deals with the challenge of approaching decision-making processes through strategic environmental assessment (SEA). It is argued that the interaction between policy-making and planning in strategic decision-making processes is a neglected reason for problems with applying SEA, as legislation and guidance on SEA primarily approach either the policy or plan level. To substantiate the argument, the extent of interaction is empirically investigated. Four contemporary decision-making processes in the Danish energy sector are mapped as a series of choices. Fundamental changes with considerable environmental impacts are decided these years, often without preceding SEA processes. The mapping shows a profound interaction between policy-making and planning. In this interaction, public consultation, systematic environmental analyses, and transparency on alternatives are primarily related to choices of planning character. The findings lead to a discussion of the existing SEA guidance that is challenged in terms of adequacy of the guidance to approach the interaction.
Evidence is sought to identify barriers which may exist in the implementation of cumulative effects assessment (CEA). Cumulative effects may result from plans for the construction of clusters of large projects, or from gradual, piecemeal environmental change caused by numbers of individually small projects. Six CEA case studies are examined; the cases include windfarms, industrial developments, flood defence works and forestry projects. The study is based on documentary evidence plus interviews and survey involving all groups of interested stakeholders. The study shows that barriers to CEA include lack of information and guidance, resource and skill shortages and uncertainty about where the responsibilities for such work may lie. There is a gap between the developer's legislated responsibility for information provision and the breadth of information on cumulative effects that may be useful to the competent authority. Measures to overcome these barriers are suggested, including guidance studies (by sector or type of environment) and a re-consideration of funding and responsibility. Factors motivating CEA work are also noted.
Environmental assessment (EA) is widely used as a means of incorporating environmental considerations into decision-making, primarily at the project level. The scope of EA has been expanded considerably in recent years to include earlier stages of the decision-making process, namely, policies, plans and programmes. Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) facilitates a planning approach to addressing the overall, cumulative effects of the projects that occur as a result of these decisions. This paper demonstrates the potential benefits of SEA in the assessment and management of cumulative effects, using a case study of recent hydroelectric development planning in Newfoundland, Canada. It goes on to illustrate how SEA could be used to address potential cumulative effects at the various stages of such a decision-making process. Through the case study, the paper also explores a number of issues in the implementation of such a planning approach.
Article
The recent surge of interest in wind technology in the UK has focused attention on the development of windfarms and their impacts on the environment. This article examines the nature of these impacts through an analysis of existing experience and six selected examples of windfarm development. A range of interactions, policies and practices are identified which could provide a background to the formulation of a policy framework for windfarm development, but which are not being considered by central government. Comment is made regarding the various techniques for landscape appraisal, including the identification of zones of influence, which could provide a useful basis for further research.