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Wind farms make ‘no difference’ to majority of tourists

More than seven out of ten tourists holidaying in Ireland said that the presence of wind farms had either a positive effect or ‘no impact’ at all on their likelihood to visit the country again.

New research carried out for Fáilte Ireland finds by contrast, 24% of tourists said that wind farms would negatively impact on any future plan they had to holiday in Ireland.

The unpublished study also shows that tourists would prefer to see turbines built on bogland or near urban areas rather than along the Irish coast or near good quality farmland, RTÉ has learned.

Fáilte Ireland will use this research to decide what planning applications for wind turbines it may or may not object to on the grounds of whether they are perceived to pose a risk to Ireland’s tourism industry.

The findings are contained in a study carried out for the national tourism agency into how tourists perceive Ireland’s growing wind farm industry.

It is the first major study of its kind in more than six years.

Around 1,000 domestic and foreign tourists who holidayed in Ireland during 2012 were questioned by research company Millward Browne Lansdowne.

The study also found that, given the choice, tourists preferred to see a few large turbines rather than a significant number of smaller turbines.

More than half of the tourists surveyed said they had seen a wind turbine on their travels around the country but 42% said they had not seen any.

Of those tourists who did see a wind turbine, 21% said it had a negative impact on their sightseeing. However, 32% said it actually enhanced it while 47% said it made no difference one way or the other.

The Fáilte Ireland study also noted that “noise is not an obvious factor for three out of four visitors who saw a wind farm in 2012, despite the fact that it is often posed as an argument against constructing them.”

The research was submitted by Fáilte Ireland to the Department of the Environment as part of an ongoing consultation into wind energy guidelines. The Department agreed to release a selected sample of the submissions following a request by RTÉ.