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Tourism Concerns Over windfarms

THE increasing friction between the need for 'green' energy and the consequences of its visual impact has persuaded Scotland's premier tourist organisation to line up with local tourist groups in voicing concern over the growth of wind farms in Argyll.

VisitScotland is lending its support to the other members of the Argyll, Loch Lomond and Forth Valley Tourism Partnership in their concern for the potential tourism impact of proposed wind farm developments.

At their recent meeting, Partnership members expressed strong concern about the increasing pressure from wind farm developers along the Clyde estuary and the potential impact on tourism, which is the single most important industry in the area.

However, their concerns over the visual impact of windfarms are not, it seems, shared by Argyll and Bute Council.

Plans for a farm comprising 20 turbines 110m high at Carraig Gheal, near Taynuilt, were put before Oban and Lorne Area Committee for consultation.

Since the farm has a potential output of 50mw, the planning authority is the Scottish Executive, and the council can only consult on the issue. Planners recommended refusal on the basis of its visual impact on the Loch Awe area and the cumulative effect it would have in that respect along with an existing windfarm.

The area committee ignored the advice of its own planners and approved the application.

A recent... [truncated due to possible copyright]  
THE increasing friction between the need for 'green' energy and the consequences of its visual impact has persuaded Scotland's premier tourist organisation to line up with local tourist groups in voicing concern over the growth of wind farms in Argyll.

VisitScotland is lending its support to the other members of the Argyll, Loch Lomond and Forth Valley Tourism Partnership in their concern for the potential tourism impact of proposed wind farm developments.

At their recent meeting, Partnership members expressed strong concern about the increasing pressure from wind farm developers along the Clyde estuary and the potential impact on tourism, which is the single most important industry in the area.

However, their concerns over the visual impact of windfarms are not, it seems, shared by Argyll and Bute Council.

Plans for a farm comprising 20 turbines 110m high at Carraig Gheal, near Taynuilt, were put before Oban and Lorne Area Committee for consultation.

Since the farm has a potential output of 50mw, the planning authority is the Scottish Executive, and the council can only consult on the issue. Planners recommended refusal on the basis of its visual impact on the Loch Awe area and the cumulative effect it would have in that respect along with an existing windfarm.

The area committee ignored the advice of its own planners and approved the application.

A recent study by pressure group Argyll Wind Farms concluded that if all the wind farms in or nearing the planning system are approved, the level of cumulative impact will degrade the environment to an unacceptable extent, with every transport route having a prominent view of at least one wind farm.

The notion that windfarms are seen as an added attraction to the local landscape is not borne out by a poll conducted by a major tour bus operator, who surveyed 5,000 of his customers. Nearly half of them said that the presence of windfarms would have a negative effect on their booking intentions, while only 15% said that they would be unconcerned by the presence of them.

Significantly, this survey was carried out exclusively among tourists visiting Argyll.

The Tourism Partnership's position supports two local industry associations, Dunoon and Cowal Marketing Group and Isle of Bute Marketing and Tourism Group, which have already made representations to the Scottish Executive to ensure that the impact on tourism is taken into account in determining applications.

VisitScotland is a member of the Partnership and its secretariat.
 
James Fraser, the outgoing VisitScotland Area Director, added his support to the Partnership's position, saying "Scotland has a vast potential resource for renewable energy, and we are very supportive of the principle of wind farm development where the sites are chosen with sensitivity to the natural environment.

"However, I echo the concerns of the Bute and Cowal groups about the potential cumulative impact of wind farms on this area of outstanding natural beauty and the tourism businesses it supports.

"We need to raise awareness now of the threat to the area's biggest industry, or we run a serious risk of sleepwalking into a situation where we damage it irreparably."

VisitScotland Area Director James Fraser added his support to the Partnership's position.
 


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APR 14 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/2248-tourism-concerns-over-windfarms
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