By Dave Black, The Journal
Coutryside guardians yesterday echoed fears that the drive to generate green energy was threatening serious harm to Northumberland’s vital tourism industry.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England says the potential influx of hundreds of huge wind turbines would damage the county’s natural assets and hamper its ability to attract more visitors and their spending power.
The CPRE also accused the British Wind Energy Association – which represents green energy developers – of using “flimsy evidence” to support its counter-claim that wind farms can attract tourists.
The Journal revealed on Saturday that Northumberland Tourism – the agency set up this year to promote the county’s visitor industry – was worried about the impact of large numbers of 120m turbines on the area’s natural beauty and tranquillity.
NT board members have been alarmed at research by VisitScotland which found that 38% of visitors said wind farms spoiled the scenery and 26% felt they would be less likely to visit if wind farms were developed.
In response, the BWEA said there was also extensive research which showed that once turbines were built, they attracted visitors.
It said a Mori study in Argyll had found that twice as many people would come back because of the presence of wind farms than would stay away because of them.
CPRE Northumberland chairman Dominic Coupe said the BWEA was making bold claims based on flimsy evidence. He said the Argyll survey was four years old and the BWEA’s “twice as many” claim reflected the opinion of just 12 people in a survey of only 307 individuals.
“It’s a tiny percentage of a pretty small number and we certainly wouldn’t make a similar claim based on such seemingly flimsy data.”
He said: “Northumberland Tourism is right to be concerned about the potential impact of wind farms on visitor numbers. In the most sparsely populated areas, tourism accounts for a massive 37% of the economy. We welcome Northumberland Tourism’s call for an up-to-date and independent survey.”
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