Wind farms generally improve the scenery of locations that were not that picturesque to begin with. According to a study in Geographical Research published by Wiley-Blackwell, wind farms have a negative impact on landscapes with a high scenic quality, but a positive effect on dull and mundane landscapes.
In the paper titled "Scenic Perceptions of the Visual Effects of Wind Farms in South Australian Landscapes", over 300 participants rated the scenic qualities of 68 photographed landscapes with, and without, digitally added wind farms.
Author Dr. Andrew Lothian says, "While people may be apathetic the appearance of wind farms, their location is critical. Wind farms in scenic areas, particularly the coastal areas, are regarded as damaging to the landscape. However, in agricultural areas of low scenic quality, wind farms seem to beautify the otherwise mediocre surroundings."
The research also finds that the negative visual effects did not reduce with distance or size of the farm and people tend to prefer turbines that are white, blue or grey over tan and rainbow-colours.
Wind farms have been constructed all over the world as a way to increase the generation of renewable energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The main opposition to the construction of wind farms is based on the negative visual impact they have on the landscape.
This study adds to a growing body of international research on community attitudes to wind farms, and contributes useful knowledge for the planning and design of wind farms by taking into account community perceptions.
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