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Windfarm group hits out at survey results

A study that suggests tourists aren’t put off by windfarms has been slammed by a pressure group.

Keith Mycock, of Turbine Watch 312, believes the new report for VisitScotland actually shows “people don’t want turbines at tourist areas”.

The study states that 80 per cent of people asked across the UK would not let the presence of a windfarm affect where they chose to go on holiday.

The number rises slightly to 83 per cent when only Scottish people and Scottish destinations are considered.

The findings also suggest only 20 per cent of people think windfarms spoil the countryside.

But while VisitScotland bosses welcome the results, Mr Mycock claims they paint a worrying picture. He said: “VisitScotland will have to play down any potential ill-effect of the spread of turbines.

“However, taking the survey at face value the figures clearly show 17 per cent of potential visitors will be put off from visiting Scotland and 20 per cent think windfarms spoil the landscape.

“I am sure any industry would be devastated if they lost 17 per cent of customers and had at least 20 per cent disappointed by their experience. The survey actually states ‘respondents would in general prefer not to see windfarms in popular tourist areas’.”

Galloway Landscape and Renewable Energy (GLARE) said the findings backed what they had discovered with research in the past few years.

Co-ordinator Alison Chapman said: “Asked if ‘Seeing a windfarm would add to my enjoyment of the UK/Scottish countryside’ about three-quarters of respondents answered ‘no’, or neither agree or disagree, which more or less corresponds with our figures.

“But GLARE has yet to find a single respondent who would be ‘very pleased’ to see the proposed 500-plus turbines across our county.”

Alan Keith, former chair of Dumfries and Galloway Accommodation Providers, also hit out at the study.

He questioned the relevance of asking people whether they would prefer one windfarm consisting of 200 turbines or 20 windfarms of 10 turbines.

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “We are both reassured and encouraged by the findings which suggest that, at the current time, the overwhelming majority of consumers do not feel windfarms spoil the look of the countryside.”

Meanwhile, 56 objectors yesterday successfully lobbied against a wind-measuring mast. They dubbed the 300ft anemometer a totally “alien structure” and councillors agreed.

The objectors put pen to paper in a bid to block permission for the mast Vattenfall Wind wants to put up at Blackmyre Moor, near Creetown.

Letters came in from as far afield at Shrewsbury, Doncaster and Penrith.

Planners recommended Vattenfall be allowed to erect the mast for three years, subject to conditions, but councillors threw out the application.