Scottish research into the use of wind farms shows that they have a tendency to blow significant numbers of tourists out of the area.
Raglan anti-wind farm activists feel vindicated by new Scottish research which suggests such projects tend to blow tourists away to more unspoilt locations.
That’s the same conclusion Raglan market research company Customer Value Management New Zealand reached with its own controversial survey, which was used in evidence to counter Wel Networks’ application to build a 28-turbine wind farm at Te Uku. But Wel Networks says it is difficult to compare the Scottish situation with Raglan because of significant differences, particularly location.
The study, conducted by Glasgow Caledonian University on behalf of the Scottish Government, showed that a significant minority of tourists preferred unspoilt landscapes without wind farms while 17.8 per cent of respondents would not even visit an area if a wind farm was built there.
Scottish newspapers concluded wind farms could cost the tourism industry millions of pounds and hundreds of lost jobs in a “worst case scenario”.
The historic Stirling area of Scotland, where the movie Braveheart was filmed, has been identified as likely to lose 6.3 million ($NZ15.73 million) in tourism income and 339 jobs if proposed wind farms are built there.
The Scottish report recommends that zones be designated for wind farm development and that other zones be designated for tourism based on unspoilt landscapes so as to minimise the negative impact.
Wel wind farm opponent Rodger Gallagher said it was pleasing the Scots had acknowledged there was a problem with wind farms.
“In New Zealand our government hasn’t even commissioned a study to determine the size of the problem that wind farms will cause to one of our largest export industries,” he said. “The present approach of choosing wind farm locations only on predicted wind energy will have the greatest negative economic impact on tourism.
“The Scottish report recommends that wind farms should not be visible from major tourist routes. In New Zealand this would mean that a wind farm such as the one proposed for Te Uku would be rejected.”
But Wel spokeswoman Selina Corboy said the Scottish study highlighted how it was possible to reach renewable energy targets and cash in on tourism.
“It is in fact a testament to being able to work together to achieve both. The study goes on to say how the two industries can work together and complement each other.”
Whereas Scotland’s tourism was already established through ancient castles and neolithic monuments, Ms Corboy said Te Uku had the opportunity to establish a tourism industry from the wind farm.
“We see the wind farm attracting a whole range of people including families and tourists to observe an operating wind farm.” she said.
By Bruce Holloway
29 March 2008
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