Wind energy development is expanding. Preparations for wind farms include environmental impact assessments, specifically with visual impact assessments (VIAs). Often using simulated photographs, VIAs depict the post-development landscape appearance with new wind energy structures. This
Ontario case study compares simulated photographs submitted as part of a VIA with post-development conditions. Simulations were judged for accuracy in turbine number, height, diameter, and location, and adequacy in representation of built conditions. Simulations were partially representative
of postdevelopment conditions, yet commonly under-represented turbine number and size in different locations than they were built. Simulation frames were too narrow to adequately represent human vision and simulations under-estimated how many wind turbines were visible from a single landscape
position. Outcomes suggest that visual simulations can lack accuracy or representativeness, misleading the public. Adopting province-wide VIA criteria and increasing adherence to visual simulation guidance may be necessary to improve the accuracy and representativeness of VIA content.
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