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Windfarm 'would hit tourism industry'  

Plans to build England’s largest onshore windfarm would hit North Devon’s vital tourism industry, a public inquiry into the project was told yesterday.

The warning was made by Martin Wickham, the general manager of the North Devon Marketing Bureau, at the public inquiry into plans by Exeter-based Devon Wind Power to build 22 wind turbines each 360ft high at Fullabrook Down, near Ilfracombe.

Mr Wickham said the beautiful rural nature of North Devon and Exmoor was the underlying reason for people to come to the area and they might find other places to go if they felt the view had been spoiled by a windfarm.

He told the inquiry that tourism accounted for 18 per cent of employment in North Devon and that in 2003, it pumped £353 million into the local economy.

“Tourism not only creates income for accommodation and attraction owners but also has an impact on many other sectors of the economy,” said Mr Wickham.

“The area around the proposed windfarm is extremely important to the tourism industry in that it contains 54 per cent of the region’s accommodation stock. The site would either be in view from this stock or while travelling around the immediate vicinity.”

Mr Wickham said several pieces of research had been done around the UK which suggested that potential visitors would be put off visiting an area if it was in close proximity to a windfarm.

“Even a drop in visitor numbers as small as five per cent could have a devastating impact on the local economy and lead to losses running to millions of pounds,” said Mr Wickham.

The inquiry continues.


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