Identifying tranquil environments and quantifying impacts
The UK has recently recognized the importance of tranquil spaces in the National Planning Policy Framework. This policy framework places considerable emphasis on sustainable development with the aim of making planning more streamlined, localized and less restrictive. Specifically it states that planning policies and decisions should aim to "identify and protect areas of tranquillity which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason". This is considered by some (e.g. National Park Authorities) to go beyond merely identifying quiet areas based on relatively low levels of mainly transportation noise, as the concept of tranquillity implies additionally a consideration of visual intrusion of man-made structures and buildings into an otherwise perceived natural landscape. In the first instance this paper reports on applying a method for predicting the perceived tranquillity of a place and using this approach to classify the level of tranquillity in existing areas. It then seeks to determine the impact of a new build, by taking the example of the construction of wind turbines in the countryside. For this purpose; noise level measurements, photographs and jury assessments of tranquillity at a medium sized land based wind turbine were made. It was then possible to calculate the decrement of noise levels and visual prominence with distance in order to determine the improvement of tranquillity rating with increasing range. The point at which tranquillity was restored in the environment allowed the calculation of the position of the footprint boundary.
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