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Turbines ‘could harm tourism industry’ warns small business chief

Plans to erect six giant turbines in a natural beauty spot have sparked concerns among small businesses.

RWE Innogy, an international windfarm developer, has submitted an application to South Lakeland District Council to replace the 12 existing wind turbines on Kirkby Moor with six much larger ones, measuring 115 metres high – more than twice the size of Barrow town hall.

The new development is set to generate up to five times the amount of energy already being produced at the site and the company has stated it could help boost businesses in the immediate area and create a number of jobs at the site.

However, small businesses and conservation organisations have spoken out against the development.

Phil Collier, chairman of the Furness branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “A large proportion of businesses in the area rely on tourism in terms of visitors and their spending and there is no doubt that these plans would result in a significant negative change to our famed and cherished landscape.

“Indeed, we have been contacted directly by a number of our members who are extremely concerned about the potential impact on their businesses.

“The conservation charity, John Muir Trust has published the results of a poll (in 2012) revealing that 43 per cent of people in Britain who visit scenic areas in the UK for their natural heritage and beauty would be less likely to visit a scenic area with a large concentration of windfarms.

“There are many more small visitor-driven businesses in Furness and the South Lakes that will be impacted if this proposal were to go ahead – cafes, shops, pubs, garages, camp sites, holiday cottages, tea rooms, gift shops, restaurants, B&Bs and more all rely on the main tourist and shoulder seasons to make their income, which must last the whole year.

“We would stress that, whilst we are not opposed to developing technology which can help to ensure our future energy needs, this must be implemented in a way which is complementary to the local area, and ideally of benefit to the local community in which it would reside.

“In our view the plans put forward here score poorly on both these criteria.”

Chris Gainey, RWE Innogy UK’s renewable developer, said: “There is going to be some form of investment in jobs through the construction phase but also the operation phase.

“Working on the construction project is where the majority of the work will be carried out but it will also have wider benefits because we would need subcontractors, cranes, cement and also the building of the substation and temporary building. These people are going to need somewhere to stay and they’re going to need to be fed.”