Blow for Trump as new survey reveals wind farms not damaging tourism

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
A new survey suggesting wind farms have no adverse effect on tourism in Scotland has been published by tourism body VisitScotland.
 
The survey, released yesterday, coincides with Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance in front of a Holyrood Committee set up to look at the Scottish Government’s green energy plans.

The controversial US tycoon has launched a bitter attack on the Scottish Government’s windfarm projects claiming they will leave the country “broke”.

Mr Trump’s attacks centre on a windfarm test site located 12 miles out at sea but, claims the tycoon, one that can be seen from his luxury golf course and spoils the view.

Mr Trump said: “Your pristine countryside and coastlines will forever be destroyed and Scotland will go broke.”

The tycoon has also previously described First Minister Alex Salmond as “Mad Alex” and accused the SNP leader of being “hell bent on destroying Scotland’s coastline”.

He has also claimed that a promise was made by former Labour First Minister Jack McConnell that no such wind farms would be erected near his luxury development, something McConnell denies.

The survey findings show tourism in Scotland increased 9 per cent between 2010 and 2011, and money spent by visitors jumped by 14 per cent during what was a record breaking year for renewables.
 
The research, commissioned by VisitScotland, shows:

  • 83 per cent of respondents in Scotland and 80 per cent of UK respondents stated their decision to holiday in the UK would not be affected by the presence of a wind farm
  • 80 per cent of respondents in Scotland and 81 per cent of UK respondents either disagreed with or neither agreed nor disagreed that wind farms spoil the look of the Scottish countryside
  • 46% of respondents said that they would be interested in visiting a visitor centre at a wind farm

John Wilson MSP, Deputy Convener of the Energy, Economy and Tourism Committee was delighted, if not surprised, by the findings
 
He said:
 
“This study in combination with the hard facts that more tourists are having more overnight stays in Scotland – and spending more money here than the year before – confirms that both of these important industries employing tens of thousands of people in communities across Scotland are thriving together.
 
“This is empirical evidence which continues to undermine baseless claims that Scottish tourism will be badly affected by wind farm development.  The overwhelming majority of visitors said they would not be affected by wind farms and almost half expressed an interest in visiting one.

“These numbers come on the back of recently published figures showing that 200,000 visitors have been to Europe’s biggest onshiore wind farm at Whitelee, making it one of our most popular attractions.

“Scotland has massive renewable energy potential that is delivering jobs and investment across Scotland as well making a big difference environmentally. We also have a successful and growing tourist sector. Both of these industries are a high priority and both are doing well, demonstrating that we can benefit from our renewables sources and our successful tourist industry.”

The publication of the new poll comes only days after a leaked letter indicated that Mr Trump’s Organisation offered its support to the Scottish Government’s windfarm projects in 2010. 

In the letter, lawyers acting on behalf of the organisation, said: “The Trump Organisation fully supports efforts being made by the Scottish Government and the Scottish renewable energy industry to achieve ambitious national targets to meet 20% of Scotland’s energy demand from renewable sources by 2020,

“Our clients support proposals for appropriately located wind farms and ultimately wish your projects every success.”

Mr Trump’s attacks on the Scottish Government’s renewables plans have been seized on by significant sections of the Scottish media as well as Unionist politicians.

However other polls have revealed an overwhelming number of Scots are in favour of windfarms.

A recent poll of 1,014 people in Scotland, carried out on behalf of Scottish Renewables, showed 72% backed windfarms and only 7% were ‘strongly against’.

Mr Trump’s attendance at Holyrood coincides with a planned protest by anti-windfarm group Communities Against Turbines Scotland, who have been backed by the US tycoon.  However the group have issued a statement denying their protest was being held in support of Mr Trump.