Increasing numbers of tourists visiting Scotland are surprised and shocked by the number of wind farms cropping up throughout Scotland.
That’s the view of James Fraser, chairman of the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, who was a panellist last night, Thursday, at the Helensburgh Advertiser’s Big Debate on wind farms.
Mr Fraser said surveys by VisitScotland showed that nine out of 10 tourists came to enjoy the scenic splendours of Scotland. Despite some reports suggesting wind farms had no economic impact, positively or negatively on tourism, he said there was a lot of nervousness about just now within the tourism industry concerning wind farms.
Mr Fraser said: “Increasingly, we are hearing adverse comments. Our visitors are saying they are surprised and shocked by the number of wind farms. It might be too late and people will start voting with their feet.”
He gave as an example the experiences of tour operators in Dumfries and Galloway who, he said, were now seriously concerned about the impact of wind farms on visitor numbers.
Patrick Harvey MSP, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, told the debate that despite a long hard look, no objective evidence could be found of wind farms’ impact on tourism, with fears about a detrimental impact being largely anecdotal.
He described Donald Trump’s assertions that wind farms would destroy the Scottish tourist industry as “bluff and bluster”, adding: “Yes, there’s anxiety and anecdotal evidence of their impact on tourism, so we have to keep a weather eye open on the issue and try to mitigate problems and assist the industry when problems do arise.”
However, one member of the audience stated that concerns about tourism were being expressed too late “as the horse had bolted”.
Meanwhile, another panellist, Stuart McMillan MSP, representing the Scottish Government said large investment had gone into researching other means of generating renewable energy, such as solar, wave and tidal power.
He said: “It’s crucial there’s a wider mix of renewable generation. Solar, wave and tidal will have a big part to play.”
Gordon Cowtan, one of the founding directors of the Fintry Development Trust explained how the Trust benefits from having the rights to income generated by one turbine on the Earlsburn Windfarm and Stuart Young related his experiences as chairman of Caithness Windfarm Information Forum.
The sixth panellist was Dr Ken Brown, founder ember of the Alliance Party of Scotland, which campaigns for a fair and effective energy policy in Scotland and the UK.
The debate, which was streamed live by YourRadio, was chaired by Advertiser editor Henry Ainslie.