Wind farms are posing a serious risk to tourism in Scotland, according to a new poll.
Mountaineering Scotland surveyed 1400 of its members and found about 23% avoid visiting areas where there are wind farms.
It said a similar drop in the number of hillwalkers visiting Scotland’s mountains could take a significant toll on the £630m walking tourism economy.
But the same poll shows 75% of members surveyed have not changed their behaviour because of wind farms. About 2% say they are more likely to visit areas with turbines.
Mountaineering Scotland chief executive David Gibson said: “This survey gives us some important evidence about the real impact wind farms in inappropriate mountain locations can have on the behaviour of hillwalkers and potentially other mountain users – but the impact goes more widely than this.
“If hillwalkers avoid visiting areas affected by wind development then local communities will lose the money hill walking visitors bring to shops, places to stay and other visitor-related businesses.
“A 20% reduction in hillwalkers could easily make the difference between profit and loss for small enterprises in mountain areas across Scotland.”
A survey carried out by Mountaineering Scotland in 2013 found 56% of members believed they would avoid areas with wind farms in the future. But only 23% of members actually changed their behaviour over the next three years.
The group said that is a “testament to the success of campaigners”.
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