Councillor says cost of challenge to projects ‘makes sham of democracy’
Scottish Government-funded research suggesting windfarms pose little threat to tourism contradicts the findings of a wave of other extensive surveys that have been highlighted by a leading eco-tourism business.
The conflict has coincided with a warning from a Highland councillor that the cost of legally challenging a development make a sham of democracy.
The government survey by Glasgow Caledonia University concluded 97% of tourists would not be deterred from revisiting Scotland.
However, a poll of more than 1,600 people from 21 nations for Wilderness Scotland found that 91% of visitors would not return if major windfarms were built.
A survey for tourism industry association Wild Scotland showed that 61% of operators in Scotland felt the impact of windfarms would be negative. Another, by holiday operator Activity Scotland, found 88% of businesses agreed with that conclusion. Wilderness Scotland director Neil Birnie said: “The government study clearly does not represent the situation accurately.
“It appears not to have consulted the tourists who would be most affected, those who come to savour the unspoilt scenery and environment. This type of tourism is worth over £1billion to the Scottish economy each year.”
Highland Council’s confirmation this week that it will seek legal costs from defeated windfarm objectors in Skye infuriated independent councillor Jim Crawford.
“It’s a slight on democracy,” he said. “If we’re doing something the community don’t want, they should have the right to object to it without being pilloried by cost.”
Labour councillor Jimmy Gray, however, said the “whole question of democracy was well exercised”, adding: “The continuous challenges made were themselves an affront to democracy.”
Jeannie Munro, who has led the Save Our Dava campaign against a raft of proposed windfarms on the pristine Dava Moor between Nairn and Grantown, said: “It’s a David versus Goliath battle with the developers. They’ve got the money, we haven’t.”
22 March 2008
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