In this thesis, an interdisciplinary Landscape Visual Impact Evaluation (LVIE) model has been established in order to solve the conflicts between onshore wind energy development and landscape protection. It aims to recognize, analyze, and evaluate the visual impact of onshore wind farms upon landscapes and put forward effective mitigation measures in planning procedures. Based on literature research and expert interviews, wind farm planning regimes, legislation, policies, planning procedures, and permission in Germany and China were compared with each other and evaluated concerning their respective advantages and disadvantages. Relevant theories of landscape evaluation have been researched and integrated into the LVIE model, including the landscape connotation, landscape aesthetics, visual perception, landscape functions, and existing evaluation methods. The evaluation principles, criteria, and quantitative indicators are appropriately organized in this model with a hierarchy structure. The potential factors that may influence the visual impact have been collected and categorized into three dimensions: landscape sensitivity, the visual impact of WTs, and viewer exposure. Detailed sub-indicators are also designed under these three topics for delicate evaluation. Required data are collected from official platforms and databases to ensure the reliability and repeatability of the evaluation process.
Friedrich-Wilhelm Raiffeisen Wind Farm in Germany and Zhongying Wind Farm in China have been studied and compared through the LVIE model. The case studies are applied in GIS with digital landscape models. The evaluation results can be quantitatively calculated and visualized to provide definite and clear guidelines for planners and other stakeholders in decision-making. The results in the LVIE model have been validated through questionnaires and analysis of variance (ANOVA) in the Chinese case. The validation aims to verify whether the results of the LVIE model fit the real situations or not, and adjust the recommendations for planning implementation.
Recommendations concerning the planning procedures, mitigation, and compensation measures, are proposed based on the evaluation results of the LVIE model for the optimization of the planning procedures of onshore wind farms. The evaluation results on the three dimensions complement existing forms of information in a meaningful manner that can be provided for various planning departments, in particular, strengthen cooperation between them. The comprehensive result of visual impact reveals that flexible buffer distance dependent on the visual impact degree is more suitable than fixed buffer distance in compact land use areas. A communal fund is recommended to manage and operate the compensation payment that can optimize public participation and local support. Finally, the limitations of the LVIE model are discussed and suggestions for future research in this area are developed.