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All construction work carried out by Landsvirkjun is accompanied by unavoidable disruption to land and can have an impact on the ecosystem and surroundings. Larger projects can have a significant visual impact and Landsvirkjun is therefore committed to designing new projects which harmonise manmade structures, landscaped areas and the natural surroundings.

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The appearance of land and the environment

Development, research and construction work on new projects affect the appearance of the surrounding environment. Disturbance to the land can be in the form of reservoirs, dams, waterways, pipes, underground cables, facilities and drilling work. The effects can differ tremendously according to the nature and shape of the land surrounding the site as well as the utilisation of it.

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Projects in 2014

Various projects pertaining to the visual impact of Landsvirkjun’s operations were active in 2014. The visual aspects for the expansion of the Búrfell Hydropower Station were assessed including the overall vision for landscaping work and area planning. Other projects included the visual aspects pertaining to wind farms in the Þjórsá area and the visual impact of geothermal areas, particularly Þeistareykir.

The visual impact of wind turbines

Visual impact is one of the most significant environmental aspects considered during the planning process for wind farms. The size, layout and number of wind turbines can completely transform a landscape and how people perceive their environment.
The process of assessing the impact of wind farms includes a landscape analysis, an assessment of how and from where manmade structures can be seen and creating conceptual images showing what the environment and landscape would look like after construction has been completed. The data is then assessed by the various experts. The views of the public towards the project are also a key factor in the process.

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Proposed wind farm

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Minimising the visual impact of wind turbines involves a number of considerations. These include the size of the wind turbines, the number of units, their appearance, shadow formation and many other factors. An analysis of the landscape is also important as the location and order of wind turbines can be a crucial factor.

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In 2014, research was carried out on behalf of Landsvirkjun. The project was entitled “Wind turbines and Visual Impacts”, and the purpose of the project was to examine what methods are best suited to evaluating the visual impact of wind turbines. New and innovative methods were explored for photomontages and simulated views and the methodology and visualisation techniques used internationally were assessed. Solutions for minimising the visual impact of wind turbines were also explored including the layout of wind turbines, their size and appearance and the design of infrastructure.

Geothermal visual aspects

In 2014, projects on landscaping and appearance were active, focusing on landscaping disturbed land as a result of piping as well as on borehole areas, mufflers and roads at the site of the potential power projects in the northeast.

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    The drilling platform before finishing work and without landscaping work.
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    Landscaping work aims to re-vegetate the land so that the structures blend in with their environment. This picture shows an example of how the drilling platform would look after landscaping work had been completed.
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    The drilling platform, five years after landscaping and finishing work have been completed.
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The research report “Geothermal: landscape shaping by drilling platforms, mufflers and road ways” puts forward a number of proposals on the size and scope of drilling platforms and ways to reduce the scope and disturbance created. Environmental factors were also examined including how finishing and landscaping work around drilling platforms and mufflers should be executed. Visual impact, landscaping work, road lines and other technical matters concerning road construction were also examined.

Analysing the landscape immediately at the preliminary investigation stage is an important factor in minimising the visual impact and ensuring that the power project design takes the environment into account.

The research report “Reykjaheiði Þeistareykjavegur nyrðri: frágangur og umbætur á svipmóti“ puts forward proposals on how finishing work on the Þeistareykjaveg nyðri road should be executed. The objective was to identify satisfactory solutions for the completion of disrupted areas so that roads would have the least visual impact possible. Another consideration was the length of time spent on completing finishing work on construction areas, that they should be harmonised with their surroundings as quickly as possible.

Construction work on the Þeistareykjaveg nyrðri road is already underway including finishing work on road areas and material extraction areas.

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    This is a photograph of the material extraction area by the Þeistareykjaveg nyrðri road before finishing work was completed (June, 2014).
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    This is a photograph of the area once finishing work was completed in August, 2014.
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More detailed information on work pertaining to visual impact in the Þeistareykir area can be found in the chapter Þeistareykir.