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Ex-tourist boss adds voice to Bute wind farm protests

A former chief executive of the tourist board covering Bute has added his voice to those opposing plans for a wind farm at Ascog.

James Fraser, who was the head of Argyll, the Isles, Loch Lomond, Stirling and Trossachs Tourist Board until its abolition in 2005, says he is “in no doubt” that the proposed development of three turbines at Ascog Hill, each measuring 74 metres from ground to blade tip, “would have an adverse impact on tourism and the special landscape qualities of the island where the tourist industry plays such an important role in sustaining the local economy”.

In his submission to the planning authority, Argyll and Bute Council, Mr Fraser said: “I have major misgivings about this proposed development.

“Siting this development in such a prominent site would result in the turbines being seen from the main ferry route to the island and from numerous viewpoints on the island itself.

“Given the special scenic qualities of the island are the main reason that visitors come to the island it would make no sense to grant permission for such a highly visually intrusive development of this nature that could undermine the local tourist industry.”

Mr Fraser said there was “growing evidence from a number of surveys that visitors prefer to visit tourist destinations untainted by industrial wind farm structures”, and referred to a Scottish Government survey which he said “confirmed a high proportion of visitors would also be willing to pay less for tourist accomodation with a views of wind turbine structures and this has implications for tourism locally”.

Mr Fraser’s comments come in the wake of a report by the Scottish Parliament’s economy committee which saidthere was no evidence tourism was being damaged by wind farms – although opponents criticised the report’s findings, with Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson calling the document “a whitewash”.

The deadline for representations on the Ascog wind farm proposal is December 7.