Visual disturbance and landscape perception

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In over 30% of the Dutch landscape, people's perception of the landscape is affected by the presence of infrastructure, large commercial buildings and various tall structures. The size of the area that is negatively affected has probably increased in recent decades, but cannot be measured properly due to unreliable data.

Large differences in influence of intrusive elements

Observed urbanisation and skyline pollution negatively affect people's perception of the attractiveness of a landscape. The extent of this problem was investigated for various intrusive elements, such as motorways, business sites and power lines. Large differences were found, both within and between different element groups.

Infrastructure and large buildings

Infrastructure (motorways, railways) and large commercial buildings, such as business locations, greenhouses and other agricultural buildings in rural areas, have a very negative effect on landscape perception. Under average visibility conditions, they can be seen from a distance of up to about 1.5 km. These kinds of intrusive elements are visible in 41% of the Netherlands, and have a moderate to high disturbing effect on landscape perception in a quarter of the Netherlands.

Tall structures

Tall structures also have a fairly large visually disturbing impact on landscape perception. Examples are high-rise blocks, wind turbines, power lines and radio/TV towers that, under average visibility conditions, can be seen from distances up to 5 km. These kinds of intrusive elements are visible in 32% of the Dutch rural landscape, and have a moderate to high disturbing effect on landscape perception in almost a tenth of the Netherlands.


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Reference for this page

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2014). Visual disturbance and landscape perception (indicator 1408, version 03 , 20 May 2014 ). www.environmentaldata.nl. Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague; PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague; RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven; and Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen.

The Environmental Data Compendium is a partnership of CBS, PBL, RIVM and WUR.