CS3 Areas of Constraint on High Structures

Closeddate_range16 Oct, 2019, 9:30am - 11 Dec, 2019, 5:00pm

CS3 Areas of Constraint on High Structures

Areas of Constraint on High Structures (ACHS) are designated at the following locations (refer to District Proposals Maps) in order to protect the distinctive and vulnerable landscapes and the environmental assets associated with the natural and historic environment of the following areas:

  • Islandmagee East and Whitehead
  • Slemish Mountain
  • Eastern Garron Plateau and Scarp Slopes
  • Knockdhu, Sallagh Braes, Scawt Hill to Glenarm Headland
  • Carrickfergus Escarpment
  • Lough Beg and the Lower Bann River Corridor

 

Structures up to 15m in Height

Within all of these areas, development proposals for wind turbines, electricity pylons or telecommunications masts/equipment less than 15 metres in height above original ground level will be permitted, provided they:

  1. do not interrupt key views from public vantage points;
  2. are not visually prominent in the landscape; and
  3. can be integrated into the landscape in a satisfactory manner.

 

Structures above 15m and up to 25m in Height

In exceptional circumstances, structures that exceed 15m may be permitted subject to a maximum height of 25m where it can be demonstrated that:

  1. there is a need for a structure of this height;
  2. there are no suitable alternative sites located outside of the designated area; and
  3. appropriate mitigation measures are in place to minimise the impact of the proposed development on the designated area.

 

Structures above 25m in Height

Structures that exceed 25m will only be permitted if it can be clearly demonstrated that:

  1. the proposal is of such regional significance as to outweigh any detrimental impact on the landscape character and/or environmental integrity of the designated area; and
  2. appropriate mitigation measures are in place to minimise the impact of the proposed development on the designated area.

 

Within Areas of Constraint on High Structures, any other form of energy infrastructure development, irrespective of its height, will not be permitted where it is visually prominent, or will otherwise adversely impact on landscape character and/or the environmental integrity of these areas.

All development proposals will be required to meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP.

Justification and Amplification

Within the rural area of Mid and East Antrim, some areas can adequately accommodate the development of public utilities and high structures without unduly compromising visual amenity and local character. However, in line with the SPPS it is important to identify those landscapes which are distinctive and vulnerable to this particular form of development, and to apply a cautionary approach in the determination of such proposals.

The areas designated under this policy are supported by the evidence contained in the Landscape Character Assessment within Technical Supplement 10 Countryside Assessment).

Landscape impacts are defined as changes in the fabric, character and quality of the landscape as a result of the development. Visual impacts relate solely to changes in available views of the landscape, and the effects of those changes on people. This includes the impact on visual amenity as enjoyed or experienced by receptors – for example from a main transport route, a settlement or a tourist attraction. The definition of all these designated areas is therefore informed not only by inherent landscape quality and character, but also by the views available from main receptor vantage points.

The aim of this policy is to ensure that those unique features of the landscape that contribute to its character, value, distinctiveness, sense of place, and quality are protected from inappropriate development relating to the introduction or proliferation of tall structures. Safeguarding the distinctive character of these areas is important to maintain the identity of the Borough and in providing opportunities for sustainable tourism growth in line with Council’s strategic priorities.

Within designated ACHS there will be a presumption against development of wind turbines, electricity pylons or telecommunications masts/ equipment that exceed 15 metres in height or any other forms of energy infrastructure development that will adversely impact on the landscape character by virtue of their visual prominence and/or the environmental integrity of the designated area. Other forms of energy infrastructure could potentially include overhead electricity cables or solar energy infrastructure.

The policy allows for smaller wind turbines up to 15m in height that serve local farms and remote rural communities. Development within these parameters will be considered acceptable provided all other policy tests are met and the visual impact of the development is minimised through mitigation measures that ensure the satisfactory integration of the development into the landscape. The protection of key views of landscape or heritage assets and their settings within the ACHS will be particularly important. Any development proposals which individually or cumulatively prejudice the overall integrity of the ACHS will be refused.

The height of turbines or other such infrastructure relative to other structures in the landscape is a key consideration in terms of landscape ‘fit’. The 15m threshold is considered appropriate because this relates well to the size of existing buildings in the landscape, including typical farm buildings. A single turbine of this height is most likely to be used to contribute to the energy needs of a residential house, farm or other rural based small business. It is relatively easy to accommodate in the landscape, if sited to cluster with existing buildings. Such turbines are also more easily screened or concealed by low ridges and undulating landform and tree cover.

Minimising the sustained visibility of micro-turbines helps limit detrimental cumulative visual impacts. Therefore, it is preferable to site on the leeward sides of ridges and prominent hill slopes, rather than on summits and high points. In circumstances where the scope for concealing or screening turbines is limited, providing broad consistency of turbine design, height and location can help mitigate against potential visual impacts.

The policy also allows for structures above 15 metres but less than 25 metres in height in circumstances where there is a need for height and where it is demonstrated that there are no suitable alternative sites outside of the designated area. Such cases will be assessed on their merits. While due account will be taken of technical reasons for exceeding the 15 metre threshold, the infrastructure provider will also need to justify why an alternative site outside of the designated area is not feasible. The lack of land ownership outside of the designated area will not in itself be regarded as sufficient justification in this context.

Structures that exceed 25 metres in height will only be granted permission in exceptional circumstances where it can be demonstrated that they are of such regional significance as to outweigh any adverse impact within the designated area. All proposals for structures exceeding 15 metres in height must demonstrate that appropriate mitigation measures can be put in place to mitigate the impact of the development in the designated area. This policy should be read in conjunction with other relevant policies in the LDP, in particular Policy RE1 Renewable Energy Development and Policy TOC1 Telecommunications and Overhead Cables.

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