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The proposed Búrfell Wind Farm is located on the periphery of the Icelandic highlands. An opinion survey was conducted to ask local residents their opinion on the main characteristics of the landscape to the north and east of Búrfell (see Appendix 7). Most of the respondents believed the main characteristics to be sand, wilderness and lava; one fifth of the respondents considered those characteristics to be a beautiful landscape. Many of the respondents mentioned the mountainous landscape, vast expanse, lack of vegetation and barren landscape. Approximately 10% believed the Hekla Volcano is the main characteristic of the area.

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Landscape units

A specific landscape characteristic analysis was conducted in connection with the Búrfell Wind Farm (Appendix 2) EIA. The landscape was divided into so-called landscape units, based on the following factors:

  • Geologyi
  • Vegetation
  • Hydrological conditions
  • Land use and cultural landscape
  • Land form and visual boundaries
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The size and shape of landscape units is determined by the dominance of the factors mentioned above. The interplay between certain factors is also important as the bedrock in an area can directly affect what type of vegetation thrives within that particular area. The demarcation of each unit is mostly determined by landforms that can block visibility. This includes mountain ranges, hills or ridges. Sharp boundaries of vegetation can also demarcate units. The boundaries of landscape units are in most cases unclear. However, these boundaries have been outlined on the map below in order to simplify matters. The value of each landscape unit is determined by identifying and combining the following factors:

  • Uninhabited wilderness (are there uninhabited wilderness areas within the unit?)
  • Recreation (are units utilised for recreation?)
  • Protection (are there protected areas within the unit?)
  • Large-scale structures (are there large-scale structures within the unit?)

A total of 12 landscape units that could potentially be affected by the Búrfell Wind Farm were identified. Each unit was given a name that had some connection to a particular aspect of that given unit. The size of each landscape unit ranged from 70 km2 to 384 km2, and the entire area measured 2,300 km2.

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Landscape unit values

Overview map

The shaded area of the map shows the demarcated landscape units as well as their value. A summary of the values for each unit can be seen below (see discussion above and details in Appendix 2).

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High value

Friðland að Fjallabaki

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape:

Somewhat negative impact

Hekla

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

Considerable negative impact

Vatnafjöll

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape:

Somewhat negative impact

Somewhat high value

Fossheiði

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

Somewhat negative impact

Heljarkinn

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

Somewhat negative impact

Valagjá

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

No impact

Þjórsárdalur

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

Somewhat negative impact

Somewhat low value

Búðarháls

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

Insignificant impact

Núpur

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

Insignificant impact

Stóra-Melfell

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

No impact

Low value

Búrfell

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

Considerable negative impact

Ytri-Rangá

Value/rating: 


Is the unit utilised for recreation or other activities?


Is there an uninhabited wilderness area within the unit?


Are there protected areas within the unit?


Are there large-scale structures within the unit?


Impact on landscape:


Is the proposed project within the unit?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 1?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2?


Is there visibility within the uninhabited wilderness in proposal 3?


Impact on landscape

No impact

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Impact on landscape

Wind turbines have a direct, negative effect on the landscape that is also reversible since wind turbines can be dismantled once their lifetime comes to an end. Wind turbines are prominent structures, and they will have a directly negative impact on landscape within the landscape unit Búrfell. Wind turbines will be visible in uninhabited wilderness areas, which will negatively impact the public’s experience of these areas and affect the value of each unit. However, these effects can vary depending on the distance of the uninhabited wilderness from the wind farm (according to the defined criteria of the visibility analysis).

Considerable negative impact

The Búrfell and Hekla landscape units will suffer a ‘considerable negative impact’. All the main structures of the proposed Búrfell Wind Farm will be constructed within the Búrfell landscape unit. The landscape unit does not have a ‘high value,’ but the proposed changes to the characteristics of the landscape will be extensive and the area is therefore defined as an area where there will be a ‘considerable negative impact’.

Many consider the Hekla to be a main characteristic of the area. This unit has the highest possible value according to the landscape character analysis and is located in close proximity to the Búrfell Wind Farm. However, no construction work will be carried out within the unit. The proposed wind turbines will be highly visible within a part of the unit, including areas defined as an uninhabited wilderness (approximately 20% of the uninhabited wilderness within the unit) and located 7 – 10 km from the proposed wind farm. Visibility within the uninhabited wilderness will have the least effect in proposals 1 and 3 (20%) and will have the most effect in proposal 2 (22%).

Somewhat negative impact

There will be a ‘somewhat negative impact’ on five landscape units.

North section of Fossheiði: Approximately 20% of this landscape unit is defined as an uninhabited wilderness. The wind turbines will be visible in 20% of this area at a distance of 7 – 20 km. The unit has a high value and the effects are therefore somewhat negative. Visibility within the uninhabited wilderness will have the least effect in proposal 1 (22%) and the greatest effect in proposal 2 (26%).

Heljarkinn: Approximately 58% of the landscape unit is defined as an uninhabited wilderness. Wind turbines will be visible in 15% of this area from a distance of 9 – 20 km. The unit has a ‘somewhat high value’ and the effects are therefore somewhat negative. Visibility within the uninhabited wilderness will have the least effect in proposal 1 (14%) and the greatest effect in proposal 2 (16%).

Friðland up to Fjallabak: Approximately 19% of the landscape unit is defined as uninhabited wilderness. Wind turbines will be visible in 7% of this area at a distance of 15 – 20 km. The unit has a high value; therefore, the effects are somewhat negative. Visibility within the uninhabited wilderness will have the least effect in proposal 1 (7%) and the greatest effect in proposal 2 (9%).

Vatnafjöll: Approximately 28% of the landscape unit is defined as an uninhabited wilderness. Wind turbines will be visible in 1% of this area at a distance of 13 – 20 km. The unit has a high value; therefore, the effects are somewhat negative. Visibility within the uninhabited wilderness will have the least effect in proposals 1 and 3 (1%) and the greatest effect in proposal 2 (2%).

Þjórsárdalur Valley: Approximately 4% of the land in the western part of the unit is defined as uninhabited wilderness. Wind turbines will be visible in 32% of this area at a distance of 8 - 10 km. The unit has a ‘somewhat high value’; therefore, the effects are somewhat negative. Visibility within the uninhabited wilderness will have the least effect in proposals 1 and 3 (31%) and the greatest effect in proposal 2 (33%).

Insignificant impact

There will be an ‘insignificant impact’ on two landscape units.

Búðarháls: The landscape unit is characterised by the Búðarháls Hydropower Station and connected structures; however, the uninhabited wilderness stretches toward the northeast of the unit. The unit has a rather low value. The visibility of the Búrfell Wind Farm is low within the uninhabited wilderness, approximately 10% at a distance up to 16 km. The effects are considered to be insignificant. Visibility within the uninhabited wilderness will have the least effect in proposal 1 (5%) and the greatest in proposals 2 and 3 (13%).

Núpur: Approximately 3% of the land in the north end of the unit is defined as uninhabited wilderness. Wind turbines will be visible in 96% of this area at a distance of 10 km. The unit has a somewhat low value; therefore, the effects are insignificant. Visibility within the uninhabited wilderness will have the least effect in proposal 1 (96%) and the greatest in proposal 2 (98%).

No impact

Stóra-Melfell, Valagjá and Ytri-Rangá: There will be no effect on these three landscape units as no structures will be constructed within them, and they are not defined as uninhabited wilderness.

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Overall results

There are no overall differences between the impacts on landscape from proposal to proposal. However, there is a difference in visibility within the uninhabited wilderness areas depending upon the proposal. Visibility has the least effect in proposal 1 since wind turbines will be visible in only 17% of the areas defined as uninhabited wilderness. Wind turbines will be visible in 19% of the areas defined as uninhabited wilderness in proposal 2 and 18% in proposal 3. 

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Búrfellslundur Wind Farm EIA report

The Búrfellslundur Wind Farm EIA report can be accessed here.
Further discussion on landscape is in chapter 7.2

EIA report

186 MB PDF

Landscape analysis

3,58 MB PDF