Mobile app aims to cut wind farms opposition

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ONE of the software pioneers behind property website has created a mobile app that could slash millions of pounds from the cost of developing wind farms.

Crispin Hoult, founder of Stirling-based Linknode, will launch VentusAR at this week’s All-Energy Conference in Aberdeen. The move is expected to drive the start-up firm’s revenues from £300,000 to £1 million within the next two years.

VentusAR uses technology such as gravity sensors and GPS, which are now standard in smartphones and other mobile devices, to create an instant 3D image of what a site would look like after a wind farm is built.

To get views from different angles, developers simply point the device in various directions.

Hoult said the app would be particularly valuable during public consultations on proposed new developments.

He thinks that allowing residents to see how the view from their own properties would be altered could help cut opposition.

“Everyone considers a wind farm to be a risk,” Hoult said.

“But with this, the objections you get will only be valid objections, rather than objections based on fear of the unknown.

“It is difficult to quantify a cost, but if you can save a project from going to appeal, well, some of those appeals can cost millions of pounds.”

VentusAR will also reduce on-site time and spending at the beginning of a project by allowing developers to quickly determine the best views when putting together the illustrations required for planning permission.

Eventually, Hoult believes the app will completely replace the computer-aided drawings now in common use.

“Technology drives change, and guidelines are always under review,” he said. “Only five or ten years ago, you didn’t need to produce these printed photo-montages.”

Hoult set up Linknode in 2011 as an online digital mapping service.

The launch of VentusAR is backed by a £70,000 Smart Scotland award through Business Gateway.

Hoult said the money would also assist in the development of additional mobile 3D apps.