VRM Africa recognises and complies with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) terms of reference which determine and guide the level of VIA required in the Environmental Impact Assessment process.

Impact is defined by the DEA&DP Visual Guideline document as: “A description of the effect of an aspect of the development on a specified component of the biophysical, social or economic environment within a defined time and space …”


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Visual studies requested by local residents:

“The need for visual input is often determined by issues relating to visual impact that may be raised by local residents or organisations, by the local authority, or on the recommendation of the EIA practitioner, or the visual specialist.” (Oberholzer, 2005: 9)

Use of GIS and CAD software within the VIA study:

“It is common for these studies to make use of computer-based techniques and digital cameras for greater accuracy and ease of mapping and constructing realistic visual simulations. GIS and CAD software are often used to create digital terrain models (DTM), which are in turn used to determine view catchments and view shadows. The actual approach used would depend on the level of visual input required in the EIA process…” (Oberholzer, 2005: 19)

Visual assessment in line with future vision:

“The determination of impact significance needs to consider the predicted impact of the proposed development in light of the vision for the area, rather than in terms of the impact on the current baseline conditions.” (Oberholzer, 2005: 26)

Visual assessment part of the planning and design phase:

“The visual assessment should provide recommendations to mitigate or enhance impacts/benefits so that these can inform the design of the project, including the siting and scale of structures and roads, the choice of materials and colours, and measures for screening where necessary. Management actions should be seen as an integral and necessary part of the planning and design phase of the project, rather than as ad hoc measures applied at the end.” (Oberholzer, 2005: 31)