Introduction: In our daily living environment the perception of high voltage power lines in landscapes could have a serious impact on well-being. Such impact may range from physical well-being to economical preferences. An example of the latter is the possibility of lower prices of land properties, the impact on physical well-being or personal health. The mechanism of reasoning that leads to such impacts may be hard to tackle, because people may substitute high voltage power lines by their concepts of electromagnetic fields, property value estimates, visual intrusion rate, etc. To study such visual perception impacts may start by doing survey via questionnaires among residents, or do specific types of field measurements.

However since geo-data has become a commodity and offer more and more detailed information in spatial and temporal sense a geo-data modeling approach could help to understand the relation between high voltage power lines and human well-being. This concept is tested by finding appropriate data sets, developing a calculation procedure which takes in account visibility factors and leads to a visual perception impact indicator linked to personal health. The results of this procedure have been validated by field work measurements and questionnaire outcomes.

Literature reveals two types calculation: one method looks at the aesthetics of the surrounding landscape, calculating the degree to which it is likely to be affected by the power lines presence, regardless whether they are visible or not. The other one considers that what is important is the objective visibility of high artifacts, which depends on their perceived size in the eye of the viewer, and the density of these objects.

This study will take into account both described methods in order to find which aspect influences more how people perceive the impact of power line presence on their well-being.

The GIS analysis for computing objective visibility factors will be performed on a digital model describing elevation, buildings and power line positions in a study area. For the calculation of landscape perturbation, a data set describing land-use will be added to the other data sets.

The methods will be tested for a study area in the Netherlands, where high voltage power lines were recently constructed. The existence of the study area makes possible to validate the methods, with photos taken in the study area from several points, and an objective quantification of the perceived size of power lines using computer analysis.

Residents in the study area answered questionnaires regarding personal health related to living near power lines. These answers will be correlated with the values derived from calculations.

The results will consist in scores of visibility and landscape perturbation for residents' addresses, obtained from both methods of calculation. The degree of correlation between calculated factors and perception values will show whether landscape awareness or objective visibility influences perception. We expect higher visibility or landscape perturbation values to correspond to greater concern regarding personal health.

Few GIS studies focus on deriving visibility of power lines, and even fewer look at the impact that visual intrusion might have on residents living near them. An objective visibility and landscape evaluation that can be applied with low costs at large scales represents a powerful tool when picking placement sites for high artifacts in the vicinity of residential areas.