TOURISTS will be put off visiting Scotland by the development of commercial wind farms in areas of natural beauty, a leading conservation charity has claimed.
A poll commissioned by the John Muir Trust found that large-scale turbine developments deter visitors, with 36 per cent of people saying they would be “less likely to visit a scenic area with a large concentration of wind farms”.
Just 2 per cent said they would be “more likely” to visit if there were a proliferation of turbines in the area.
The Scottish findings in the YouGov poll of 2,269 adults across the UK mirrored the view south of the Border.
Publishing the poll today, the trust said it showed that pursuing the development of large-scale wind farms in some of Scotland’s most scenic landscapes could have “potentially catastrophic consequences” for tourism.
John Hutchison, chairman of the John Muir Trust, said: “Global energy corporations are exploiting the Scottish Highlands, which is widely regarded as being one of the most beautiful regions of Britain, and indeed the world.
“This poll shows that up to 20 million adults across the UK may think twice about visiting areas where the landscape is blighted by turbines. That represents a serious long-term threat to those areas whose economic lifeblood is tourism.”
The survey also showed that the majority of respondents believed the government should prioritise the protection of Scotland’s landscapes over the development of wind power.
Some 37 per cent were against major wind farms in wild areas, compared to 30 per cent who were in favour of the developments to produce valuable energy to meet demand.
Stuart Brooks, trust chief executive, said: “There is a growing groundswell of opposition to the siting of large-scale wind farms on wild land – much of which is in Scotland. This sends a clear message to politicians of all parties who have supported policies to industrialise our landscapes with wind turbines double the height of the Scott Monument.”
It is the first national poll to measure the level of public support for large-scale wind farms in the UK.