Opponents of wind farms in Wales have suffered a setback, after a new report concluded that tourism levels have not been affected in regions where turbines have been erected.
An inquiry was set up after concerns were raised, and backed by some Conservative Assembly Members (AM), that the tourism industry would begin to suffer if the government pressed ahead with the development of wind farms across the country.
But a new report has found that although the Welsh tourism economy could see some numbers displaced, most areas will remain unaffected.
Montgomeryshire Conservative AM Russell George had said that local economies face a “hammer blow” from the infrastructure that comes with wind farms, but the report suggests an entirely different picture.
“There are a number of areas in Wales where wind farms have been an established presence on the local landscape for a very long time,” says the report.
Areas such as Powys, Anglesey and the South Wales valleys, which were all the subject of case studies as part of the inquiry, did not show that tourism was largely unaffected by their presence.
The report adds, “The few local studies which are available have shown the majority of visitors are positive or indifferent about wind farm development. Although there was some anecdotal evidence of visitors staying away due to wind farms, the vast majority of consultees believed there had been no impact on total visitor numbers and hence on the visitor economies as a whole”.
Despite fierce opposition from some, including the prime minister David Cameron who is thought to be planning an all out attack on onshore wind in the Conservative 2015 manifesto, a poll conducted last year found that 70% of people are happy to have wind farms built near to their homes.
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