Two of the region’s tourism bodies have come under fire for their approach to the issue of windfarms.
Destination Dumfries and Galloway and VisitScotland have been criticised for failing to make their positions known at a recent tourism conference in Dumfries.
Both organisations told the News they do not feel it was appropriate to comment on the potential threat of windfarms to the region’s tourism industry.
Destination Dumfries and Galloway recently organised the conference at the Easterbrook Hall in association with VisitScotland and the council.
One of the people who attended was Carole Naylor, who has been renting out her home in Kippford during the summer months for around four years.
And she was unimpressed that the subject of windfarms did not come up until she discussed it with representatives from the organisations.
Miss Naylor, who is a member of the Solway Turbines Objection Partnership (STOP), said: “The main topic of conversation with other businesses is what effect will windfarms have on tourism.
“The tourism conference was the perfect opportunity to find out about it and nothing was mentioned.
“I talked to the regional director of VisitScotland and the chair of Destination Dumfries and Galloway and it was clear they did not want to talk to me about it. VisitScotland’s aims are to support and represent the tourism industry but we are not getting that support or representation.”
Her views were echoed by Alan Keith of Crossmichael, who is the chairman of the Association of Dumfries and Galloway Accommodation Providers (ADGAP).
Mr Keith, who was not at the conference, said: “VisitScotland do not decide not to take a position, they decide there is no position to take.
“They make out it is a 50/50 balance for and against windfarms. Even if that was the case, that is damaging enough.
“Destination Dumfries and Galloway will not take a position – they rely on local authority funding and due to government power they are afraid of losing that funding.”
Visit Scotland’s regional director, Sandi Hellowell, defended her organisation’s stance.
She said: “The Dumfries and Galloway tourism conference provided opportunity for local tourism businesses in the region to talk about the regional strategy and ways in which we could work together moving forward.
“There are mixed feelings from the industry over the subject of windfarms and it is only within our remit to provide the opportunity for businesses to air their concerns on this subject, signposting where possible to the relevant lobbying groups who will take these matters further.
“VisitScotland supports renewable energy but we do have concerns over the cumulative effects of windfarms in rural areas, thus our concerns are noted via formal planning processes as appropriate.”
And Wilma Finlay, chairman of Destination Dumfries and Galloway, added: “The purpose of the conference was to provide the space and context for tourism related businesses in Dumfries and Galloway to raise and discuss their ideas, opinions and issues.
“The conference did not single out any one issue in order to ensure businesses genuinely had an opportunity to raise and discuss the issues that matter to them.
“The issue of windfarms was raised and discussed by tourism related businesses during group workshops.
“Destination Dumfries and Galloway’s mission is to promote and develop the region’s tourism industry.
“On the specific issue of windfarms, there are a wide range of opinions within the industry and Destination Dumfries and Galloway encourages individual businesses to voice their views.”
A spokesman for the council, which was also involved in the conference, said: “As planning authority, the council can’t comment on windfarms in such a forum. The council can, however, ensure that, whenever applicable, tourism organisations are part of the consultation process.
“As with all planning applications received by the council, individuals have a right to express their views.
“The council is also a consultee on applications that are determined by the Scottish Government and makes comments on applications as appropriate.”
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