The Planning, Technical & Financial Wind Turbine Feasibility Study will assess a wide range of aspects including landscape, ecological and heritage designations, impacts on aviation and communication links, and access routes to the site. We’ll carry out a site visit to discuss the project with you and ensure we have a complete understanding of the site characteristics. The study will conclude with a summary of key risks to allow you to assess whether to proceed to a full planning application.
Planning Constraints Map
The Planning Constraints Map builds on the Physical Constraints Map which was produced as part of the Scale Assessment and uses GIS software to plot known sensitivities on or near the site up to varying distances according to the sensitivity, based on the most likely turbine positions determined in the Physical Constraints Map. The turbine position may change throughout the process depending on the results of the analysis. These sensitivities include:
- Aviation (MOD, civil and meteorological radar, low flying zones and physical safeguarding)
- Communications (microwave links)
- Landscape (National Parks, AONBs, Greenbelts etc.)
- Ecological (all designations – particularly birds and bats)
- Cultural Heritage (listed buildings, ancient monuments, National Trust properties etc.)
The report section includes the planning constraints maps themselves, a colour-coded analysis table clearly showing what’s considered low, medium or high risk and recommendations for further consideration during the Planning Sensitivity Assessment.
Planning Sensitivity Assessment
The planning sensitivity assessment aims to quantify (within reason) the planning consent risks at the site.
Broken into three key sections of Ecology, Landscape and Cultural Heritage within each section, all of the key sensitivities are analysed, and for each of these the closest five sites within the assessment radius are identified and reviewed. The distance to the location is measured and a scoring algorithm calculates the planning sensitivity. Basic checks are also made for coal mining areas and problematic orography.
The various scores are aggregated at sensitivity and section level, then the results presented in a colour-coded summary sheet. More detail on individual sensitivities is provided on the scoring sheets for a more detailed review. Although wind planning risk is quite subjective, the Planning Sensitivity Assessment gives a good indication of the overall level of risk and where attention should be focused.
Energy Production & Financial Modelling
Using the wind resource and turbine type, scale and position determined at the Turbine Scale stage, we use our databases to assess the annual energy production from the wind turbine(s). For multiple wind turbine sites, at an extra cost, we can complete additional full energy optimisation modelling in order to position the wind turbines to maximise energy yield and minimise interference from turbulence losses – please contact us if you require modelled energy optimisation.
We can then select the appropriate Feed-in-Tariff and realistic electricity export rate (or account for on-site energy use) to estimate the annual income that the turbine(s) will produce. We also take into account maintenance, insurance and business rates to give you a realistic income estimate after operating costs.
We will also provide a budget cost estimate for the whole project, including the remaining feasibility stages, obtaining planning consent and then the design and installation of the system.
Initial Communications Assessment
After we have determined the most suitable wind turbine location, we will submit the pre-planning communications consultation to the statutory telecommunications bodies and complete a communications assessment based on the responses.
This communications assessment checks for microwave links (and other communication links) across the proposed site that could either prevent the installation of a wind turbine or require the position of the turbine to be adjusted in order to lessen the likely interference to the communication link.
If we determine that a communication link does conflict with the turbine position and there are no alternative positions available then we can determine the exact link path in relation to the proposed turbine location and complete communication link modelling and consultation with the communication service provider to try and mitigate the risk. If any communications providers charge for release of the communication link coordinates this would be charged as an extra item to the module at cost plus a 20% admin fee – charging for release of this information is rare.
We can use the modelled link positions to negotiate ( for an additional fee) a suitable mitigation strategy with the communications link owner to either get them to accept the turbine location or determine the costs of moving the link.
Initial Access Assessment
We use software tool and online resources to assess the most likely delivery route for the wind turbine(s), from the nearest major ‘A’ road to the turbine location in site.
The assessment includes checks for sharp corners, excessive gradients, low bridges and weak bridges (where visible). The proposed route is then shown on a map with all areas of concern identified with images (if available) and categorised as low, medium and high risk, along with recommendations for any further work that may be necessary to further analyse specific risks.
Note that this doesn’t replace a full access assessment which may be required at the planning application/installation stage, but does provide an initial check if it will be possible to transport and install wind turbine(s) at the site.
Nothing beats actually visiting a site and having a good look around the area for access routes and grid infrastructure, so once the initial feasibility checks have been completed the next step is a wind site survey.
A wind site survey also provides a great opportunity for the landowner to discuss the project face-to-face with a wind engineer and get a better idea of what will be involved in the next stages.
Any technical or planning sensitivities identified during the previous feasibility stages would be visited and reviewed in more detail during the wind site survey, the proposed access route would be driven, on-site electrical infrastructure studied in more detail (including the potential for on-site use) and copious photographs taken to inform the next stage.
Summary and Risk Assessment
To conclude, the wind turbine feasibility report will provide a summary of key issues and risks to the project for all aspects assessed, and considerations for deciding whether to proceed to a planning application. We may identify further third party assessment work to mitigate some of these risks which may help the planning application decision. Any additional third party assessments agreed will be charged at cost + 20%.
Want to install a wind turbine?
If you are in the UK then take our Wind Site Self-Assessment - Step 1 of our modular Windpower Feasibility Study. It takes about 20 minutes to work through the basic checks to see if your site might be suitable, including:
- Estimating wind speed
- Checking proximity of nearby properties
- Checking site access and approach roads
- Investigating connection with the grid