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Impact of industrial wind on rural economy

“The rural visitor economy is worth £14 billion in England alone and supports up to 800,000 jobs. Research shows that for an average 75% of visitors, the quality of the landscape and countryside is the most important factor in choosing a destination. Between 47% and 75% of visitors felt that wind turbines damage the landscape quality. In North Devon turbines would deter 11% of visitors, at a cost of £29 million and the loss of 800 jobs. Approximately 7% of visitors would not return to Cumbria, which would result in a loss of £70 million and 1,753 jobs. In the South West, just a 5% overall reduction in visitor numbers would lose the region £400 million and 15,000 jobs. Because of the multiplier effect, a reduction of visitors can have farreaching consequences for the overall regional economy, a fact richly illustrated during the Foot and Mouth crisis. The evidence shows that in some areas, 49% of all sectors of rural businesses experienced a negative impact. [Full analysis, pp. 10-18]

“We argue that the current trend towards high levels of wind energy development onshore presents an unacceptable threat to rural businesses and runs counter to almost all other aspects of Government policy relating to the rural economy. This has important implications when assessing the overall cost-benefit equation of the current renewable energy policy. …

“Sustainable development, as defined by the Rural Strategy, is characterised by “integrating and balancing environmental, social and economic considerations at every stage.” 41 Recognising its potentially negative impact on the environment, UK tourism has long embraced the ethos of sustainability. Today UK tourism is striving to be a role model for sustainable practices. Businesses are investing in energy efficiency, recycling and local purchasing. Many are gaining international accreditation through sustainable programmes such as the Green Business Tourism Scheme. Local partnerships are operating visitor payback schemes that include visitors as stakeholders in reinvesting back into the conservation of the environment they enjoy. It is in the industry’s interest to maintain and improve the environment and to contribute to the economic and social stability of local communities.

“This symbiosis represents the greatest prospect of achieving the Rural Strategy 2004 goals and the Government’s sustainability agenda. In contrast, the current onshore wind policy is at odds with the concept of sustainability. For the majority of onshore wind developments, the environmental costs are local and the benefits are invariably taken or delivered outside the region. In the most striking cases, a large-scale wind farm may be entirely financed by overseas investors, using imported equipment and a team of specialist contractors to oversee the installation. Once operating no one is employed on the site and the income and profits from the Renewables Obligation scheme are repatriated back to the investor country.

Download original document: “UK Energy Policy: The Small Business Perspective and the Impact on the Rural Economy [1]