November 4, 2012

Alex Salmond warned that windfarms could blow Scotland’s £11bn tourism industry to pieces

By Mark Aitken Daily Record and Sunday Mail | 4 November 2012 |

Campaigners yesterday warned Alex Salmond the growing number of wind turbines could devastate Scotland’s £11billion tourism industry.

A poll carried out for conservation charity John Muir Trust showed almost half the British public would be put off visiting scenic areas where there are windfarms.

The First Minister last month claimed the surge in wind turbine numbers “enhances our appeal as a country”.

But the YouGov poll of 2269 adults showed 43 per cent would be less likely to visit a scenic area with a large concentration of turbines.

Just two per cent said they would be more likely to visit and 48 per cent said it would make no difference.

Among Scots, 36 per cent said they would be less likely to visit and for 58 per cent it would make no difference.

A public inquiry is being held into plans for a 31-turbine windfarm at Allt Duine, close to the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park.

It is one of seven windfarms planned for the area.

Trust head of policy Helen McDade said: “There is now a relentless march of wind turbines into areas that most people would regard as scenic wild land.

“The Allt Duine proposal, for example, would mean the construction of 31 turbines, each 125 metres high, which would be visible from across 100 square miles of the Cairngorms National Park.

“Time is rapidly running out for politicians to take positive action to keep industrial windfarms out of our most precious landscapes.

“We will be highlighting this poll to put pressure on governments in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast to bring forward measures to increase protection for wild and scenic land across the UK.”

The poll also found 37 per cent of Scots believe the Government should prioritise protecting wild scenic land from windfarms, while 30 per cent believe they should prioritise

Last week, the trust were furious when Highland councillors gave the OK to plans for a hydroelectric scheme at Loch Lochy that would be used like a “battery” to store excess wind power.

Last month, UK energy minister John Hayes was slapped down by Cabinet chiefs after he said the country had “enough” onshore windfarms.

Salmond wants half of Scotland’s electricity to be supplied by renewable energy by 2015. A
Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scotland has open, inclusive and transparent planning processes which give the right protection to our magnificent landscapes, and which take tourism interests and evidence into account.

“Meanwhile, independent research shows 83 per cent of Scottish
respondents and 80 per cent of UK respondents stating that their
decision to holiday in the UK would not be affected by the presence of a windfarm.

“And the latest figures show the number of visitors to Scotland has risen by four per cent in the year to June 2012 compared to the previous 12-month period.”

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