More research is needed into the effect of windfarms on tourism, a study said.
Some evidence shows wind turbines could put off tourists.
But their presence had a negligible affect on tourism to Northumberland overall, the study concluded.
Northumberland County Council found there could be “localised impacts in terms of tourism being displaced” and that the “scale and rate of wind farm development in future could, if inappropriately located, change the value judgements of tourists.”
Despite this, turbines had neither a “significant negative or positive impact” on tourism.
Tourism chiefs called for more research into the issue.
Jeff Sutheran, chairman of the North Northumberland Tourism Association, can see ten 125m turbines at Wandylaw, near Alnwick, from his award-winning bed and breakfast at Seahouses.
“I do not think anyone will come to see the wind turbines,” he said
“But I think there will be some people they will not come back because wind turbines have altered the view.
“In order for the evidence to be assessed reasonably and rationally we need reliable information and that can only be obtained with a realistic study in Northumberland at this time.”
Northumberland County Council admitted there were “limitations” to the study its work was based on and backed Mr Sutheran’s call, saying it just ‘did not know’ what was the impact of turbines on tourism.
In June 2013, Conservative county councillors tabled a motion calling for an urgent study into the potential impact of wind farms on the Northumberland tourism industry, at a time when increasing numbers of turbine schemes were being tabled.
The motion was subsequently approved.
The results of the study – an “extensive and thorough review of available research studies which assess the effects of onshore wind farms on tourism in the UK” – have now been published by the authority.
They state: “The conclusions of the review of research studies suggests that there is no evidence to conclude that the development of wind farms has either a significant negative or positive impact on tourism although there could be localised impacts in terms of tourism being displaced.
“The scale and rate of wind farm development in future could, if inappropriately located, change the value judgements of tourists.”
However, the council concedes: “The study is clear that there are limitations to the studies that have been reviewed, mainly concerning the age of the studies which means that they relate to a smaller scale of wind energy development and they were carried out in settings that are different to Northumberland. This has been emphasised throughout the report.”
It adds: “The study recommends areas for further work given that there is an identified lack of research that has been done on this issue, the age of the studies that do exist and the geographical location of those studies.”
The results are to be used to inform the preparation of the evidence base for the council’s core strategy planning guidance.
Mr Sutheran said: “The evidence [the council] has looked at is very old, looking at installations which are quite different to the kind of installations we are now talking about because technology has made these things much bigger and wider.
“These studies were not undertaken in Northumberland which has the open skies people come for, is more sensitive than other places.
“In order for the evidence to be assessed reasonably and rationally we need reliable information and that can only be obtained with a realistic study in Northumberland at this time.
“We do not know whether tourists would stop coming.”
“My opinion is that they are more likely to be damaging than helpful but they may not be as damaging as some think.”
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