Fife’s prime attraction for visitors must be taken into account when a proposed wind farm near the picturesque village of Ceres is deliberated, a tourism leader has warned.
The region’s main appeal for tourists, its scenery and environment, must be given due consideration VisitScotland Fife area director Alan Graham said.
Wind power firm EnergieKontor UK has submitted a planning application for a five-turbine wind farm on hillside at Gathercauld, east of Ceres.
Mr Graham addressed his comments to Fife Council ahead of a decision on the wind farm, one of two proposed in north-east Fife.
He said VisitScotland supported development of renewable energy as a cornerstone in fighting climate change, but added, “The legitimate interest of tourism, both at national and local level, must be factored into the overall renewable energy equation, particularly as this relates to the likely dynamic growth in the development of on-shore wind farms in the short to medium term and the possible cumulative impact.”
He said nine out of 10 visitors to Scotland came because of the landscape and the last visitor survey conducted found that Fife’s scenery and natural environment were its greatest appeal.
He added, “Nationally, VisitScotland is concerned that the rapid expansion of wind farm development may result in little consideration being given to separation distances and cumulative impacts of wind farms on tourism.
“It is imperative that sectors of economic activity are not treated in isolation but are considered both fully and appropriately in a comparative setting.”
Mr Graham also dismissed as groundless the claim by EnergieKontor UK that wind turbines could be viewed as an “attractive addition” to the landscape and an additional reason to visit.
“VisitScotland is not aware of any evidence whatsoever to support the thesis that wind farms in themselves could become a visitor attraction and would urge caution when this proposition is put forward.”
Using VisitScotland and British Wind Energy findings, EnergieKontor also asserted the majority of tourists seemed to be unaffected by turbine development.
However Mr Graham said research of actual visitors in a location with wind turbines was insufficiently robust and it was VisitScotland’s view more surveys had to be undertaken.
While recognising the firm’s consideration of the proximity of Gathercauld to historic Hill of Tarvit mansion and gardens, Mr Graham said the report failed to mention the heritage golf site under development in its grounds which it is hoped will become a major visitor draw.
EnergieKontor submitted the planning application last month.
It is also behind plans for a wind farm at Auchtermuchty, which are to be determined by the Scottish Executive.
By Cheryl Wood
10 July 2007
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