The SNP’s obsession with wind farms is driving climbers off of Scotland’s mountains, it was claimed yesterday.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland says many of its 11,800 members are travelling to the Lake District or abroad to escape the sight of wind turbines and the noise they make.
The MCoS director for landscape and access, Dave Gordon, says his organisation is to survey its members to assess the damage wind farms have done to the enjoyment of the hills.
He said: “Although few wind farms have yet been built in core mountain areas, only around half of those with planning permission have been built.
“And there are a significant number of current planning applications for large wind farms in wild mountainous landscapes. There is almost no up-to-date evidence on the effect that the spread of wind farms is having on the recreational use of Scotland’s hills.”
The Scottish Government and developers have repeatedly insisted turbines have no effect on tourism.
But Mr Gordon added: “Anecdotally, MCoS hears differently.
We hear that people are beginning to avoid certain areas, are visiting less frequently and are going to Cumbria or abroad more often.”
Last year, First Minister Alex Salmond caused controversy by claiming the growing number of wind turbines “enhance” the country.
Tory energy spokesman Murdo Fraser said the MCoS revelation was evidence of a “disgraceful knock-on effect of the SNP’s determination to cover rural Scotland in turbines”.
He added: “I look forward to seeing the outcome of this survey, because the Scottish Government is always quick to point to a lack of evidence when it comes to the impact wind farms have on tourism.”
The SNP has approved almost 60 renewable projects since 2007, while fewer than 10 have been rejected.