September 15, 2006
Editorials, U.K.

Battles in our tourism playground

Tourism in Cumbria generates £1.3 billion pounds each year for the local economy and supports 47,000 jobs.

With manufacturing in decline and farming under strain, it is fair to say that without tourism the county’s economy could be on its knees.

Our landscape is our major asset, but as tourism becomes more central to the county’s economic strategy then conflicts are bound to arise.

On the one hand we want to protect what we’ve got, while on the other we try to encourage a living, working environment that requires development and infrastructure.

The balance is not always easy to maintain.

The go-ahead for a large holiday village at Lowca has upset some people, although the scale of protest suggests many more are willing to accept some disruption if it means 170 jobs, a massive cash injection for the local economy, and a new sense of vitality for a tired old site.

Approval for a Travelodge just outside Cockermouth further confirms that tourism can be our gateway to more prosperity.

But, as we say, there will be conflict – and massive opposition to a proposed windfarm near Allonby reveals just how sensitive we are to landscape changes.

Protesters share our concern that the case for wind power is unproven – and that alone should stop the march of turbines across Cumbria – but the overriding issue, which has caused objectors to write in from all over the country, is that these windmills will be an eyesore in a lovely spot.

Allerdale council must block this plan, just as it has already sensibly halted a test mast proposal at Tallentire Hill.

There is development, and there is development. We can take new building if it adds to our tourism strategy, but we mustn’t take it if it threatens to drive customers away.

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