Mountaineering Scotland warn of wind farm risk

editorial image

Mountaineering Scotland has warned that wind farms could pose a major risk to the country’s multi-million pound walking tourism economy.

The organisation has published a report into the impact of windfarms following a survey of 1400 of its members.

Over two thirds (67 per cent) said they preferred not to see wind farms when in the mountains and 22 per cent said they avoided areas with wind farms when planning their activities.

Now, Mountaineering Scotland is warning that businesses in these areas could lose out as a result of a drop in visitor numbers.

David Gibson, Mountaineering Scotland Chief Executive said: “This survey gives us some important evidence about the real impact wind farms in inappropriate mountain locations can have on the behaviour of hill walkers and potentially other mountain users – but the impact goes more widely than this.

“If hill walkers 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 per cent reduction in hill walkers could easily make the difference between profit and loss for small enterprises in mountain areas across Scotland.”

He added: “Hill walkers are likely to be particularly sensitive consumers of landscape. They are therefore a barometer in terms of identifying wider tourism impacts from wind farms. Mountain recreation is a significant tourism market in Scotland. Walking tourism was estimated to bring in £627m to the Scottish economy in 2008 – more than all other nature-based tourism combined – and 15 per cent of all tourism spend.”

Mountaineering Scotland says its survey is the only one to ask Scottish hill walkers and mountaineers how wind farms impact their current mountaineering activities. In 2013-14, 56 per cent of members anticipated avoiding areas with wind farms in the future.

The body presented its new report to a public local inquiry last week into the proposed Whitelaw Brae wind farm in the Tweedsmuir Hills where 2020 Renewables wants to build a wind farm beside the largest area of high ground in southeast Scotland.

West of the Tweed is a massive spread of turbines, none of which were objected to by Mountaineering Scotland, but the organisation regards the landscape east of the Tweed as an important area of high ground that should be valued.

Thomas Saveall won the Project Spotlight Volunteer award at the Citizens Advice Scotland conference. He was presented with a silver Quaich by HRH Princess Anne. Picture - Stewart Attwood''''All images � Stewart Attwood Photography 2019.  All other rights are reserved. Use in any other context is expressly prohibited without prior permission. No Syndication Permitted.

Taylor Wimpey have confirmed directly with local Councillor Nathan Wilson that the organisation retains its commitment to building a park and ride at Shieldmuir Train Station. In response to recent enquiries made by Councillor Wilson, Taylor Wimpey have advised that engagement is taking place with Network Rail over the latter’s approval procedures and that once this process is complete, work will be able to begin on site. The developer has informed the Motherwell Councillor that during the period of investigation undertaken since the commencement of building work was delayed in January 2018, an unrecorded service chamber has been discovered on site. The project cannot move forward until further clarification is provided on the nature of the service chamber and Taylor Wimpey are in the process of commissioning a contractor to assess the situation. The developer’s initial judgement is that this is likely a redundant service. A senior representative of the organisation has also informed Councillor Wilson that a member of the Taylor Wimpey production team will be sent out to inspect the vacant land following a request he made at the beginning of 2019 for maintenance work to be carried out on site should construction of the park and ride remain some time away. Councillor Nathan Wilson said: “Taylor Wimpey have communicated to me directly that the park and ride facility is a project that the organisation remains committed to delivering. “However, it goes without saying that the lengthy delay is still very disappointing and frustrating. “An unrecorded service chamber has been identified on site and progress is unable to be made until this has been investigated. “Taylor Wimpey have relayed to me that an on-site inspection of the vacant land will take place and I hold to the view that maintenance work should be carried out in the short term to improve it’s current condition. “I will continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders and re-inforce to them the importance of the park and ride project locally. Motherwell and Wishaw CAB takes home 40 per cent of the prizes