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Shock at claims on wind farms tourism impact

Montgomeryshire AM Russell George says he is ‘shocked and amazed’ by claims from First Minister Carwyn Jones that wind farms have no impact on tourism.

Mr George said he was amazed by Mr Jones’s comments during the weekly First Minister’s Question Time on Tuesday.

He accused the minister of ‘pretending’ the issue didn’t exist and called on him to look at reports which proved otherwise.

Mr George said: “I was truly shocked and amazed by the comments made by the First Minister.

“Even if he doesn’t want to come to Mid Wales and speak to people working in the sector and listen to their concerns, he could have certainly read the detailed report that the Scottish Government published in 2008 that measured the economic impact wind farms have had on the Scottish tourism industry.

“The conclusions of the report were very clear, wind farms and their infrastructure have had a definite and measurable impact on the sector in Scotland.”

Mr George suggested that Mr Jones should commission research into finding out why people visited Mid Wales.

He also said the minister should listen to what tourism operators had to say.

“Instead of pretending that this issue doesn’t exist, perhaps the First Minister should commission research in Wales by speaking to the sector and to the tourists who visit Wales because of its beautiful landscape,” he said.

“I would suggest he may find those comments hard to justify.”

Mr George is currently fighting plans by National Grid and Scottish Power to build pylons, wind farms and a hub in Mid Wales.

Up to 3,000 people attended 28 public events staged by Scottish Power earlier this year on plans to connect 700MW-plus of new renewable energy generation from 10 proposed windfarms in Mid Wales.

The company asked for opinions on a number of corridors between 0.5km and 4.0km wide for the required 132kV connections.

They took into account National Grid’s consultation on two potential sites for a hub substation, where the power lines would connect in to.

Two sites – at Abermule, near Newtown and Cefn Coch, near Llanfair Caereinion – have been suggested for the hub.

A preferred route it due to be announced in early 2012, possibly in February.

More consultation will then be held with the public.