A survey has shown a big increase in the number of tourists saying wind turbines would put them off visiting north Northumberland.
The survey was taken by the Middleton Burn Action Group (MBAG), following their attempt to gauge public opinion last year.
Throughout August and September 2012 MBAG conducted a survey of visitors to Belford to assess the possible effect on tourism of proposed further industrial wind turbines.
Following the construction of 28 turbines at the Middlemoor and Wandylaw sites this year, it was decided to conduct the same survey over the main holiday period of July and August this year.
Roughly the same number of visitors responded as in the 2012 survey but this year saw an increase in those stating it would adversely effect their choice of north Northumberland as a holiday destination.
79.6% of respondents made that claim, and increase of 15.6% on last year.
Meanwhile, 89.7% believe that the wind farm would make north Northumberland “very spoilt”. That was an increase of just under 5% in the last year.
76.9 % of those asked said they would visit the area “much less often” were the planned turbines erected.
MBAG vice chairman Kerry Noble said: “This large upsurge of feeling has been caused, we believe, by what has come to be known locally as the “Middlemoor Effect”: the fact that our visitors, this year, have been able to see for themselves the devastation allowed to be wrought on this beautiful area.
“Another interesting factor was that almost every respondent added vehement objections in the ‘comments’ section of the survey form. Very few did that in 2012.”
The MBAG report attached to the survey went on: “When considering tourism in their scoping reports and planning applications, developers merely rely on very old figures and surveys that show little harm would be done.
“Since those reports, turbines have almost doubled in size and are now being placed in very sensitive areas.
“We believe the surveys carried out show the true extent of the damage possible to the local economy and way of life and for that and many other reasons, any further despoliation must be refused.”
Energiekontor recently submitted plans for nine turbines, each 100m tall, at Belford Burn to the west of the village, while Air Farmers Ltd are proposing up to 16 turbines, 125m tall, at a neighbouring site at Swinhoe.
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