One component of current environmental legislation (National Environmental Management Act) is the determining of visual impacts which form part of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). Visual Impact Assessments (VIAs) should not be viewed as an obstacle in the approval process, instead, visual input should be viewed as a tool to formulate design alternatives, minimise impacts and even reduce costs for the project.

Key principals and concepts must be considered when undertaking a VIA as input into the EIA process:

  • Visual comprises of visual, cultural, spiritual and aesthetic aspects which contribute to a sense of place.
  • The inter-relatedness of both natural and cultural landscapes.
  • All protected areas and sites of special interest should be identified.
  • Understand the geological, vegetation and settlement patterns of a particular landscape.
  • Include both quantitative (visibility) and qualitative criteria (landscape character).
  • Provide mitigation measures.
Visual Impact Assessments include the development and modelling of viewpoints and high sites using GIS techniques. A report is compiled which details the impacts and potential mitigation measures that should be incorporated to minimise the visual impact of proposed developments. Visual Impact Assessments can also incorporate remote sensing technology to provide current and up to date information related to aerial imagery, contours, heights and sizing of structures in order to create a holistic assessment.

ENVASS provides a Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) service for personal and public developments to assess the significance of the visual impacts caused by or potentially caused by new developments. If you may require a visual impact assessment or other specialist services please do not hesitate to contact our highly qualified and experienced specialists at ENVASS on 012 460 9768 or

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