Linda Holt, spokesperson for Scotland Against Spin, said:
“I had to check it wasn’t April 1st when I saw Biggar Economics claiming to have “found that for the majority of cases the tourism sector in the immediate area around the windfarm grew quicker than it did across the local authority area”.
“If you are highly selective in the statistics that you use, you can make statistics prove anything.
“Some of the ways Biggar have skewed their research is to only compare two numbers (number of turbines and number of tourists), to fail to distinguish between types of tourism, to fail to control for the impact of one-off events such as the Ryder Cup, Open Golf or the Commonwealth Games and to pick a huge area for tourism impacts (a 15 km radius around the wind farms) which obscures the disastrous impacts for tourism businesses in scenic locations close to wind farms. Biggar even ignores the well-known boost temporarily given to hotels, B&Bs and eateries in remote areas when gangs of imported labour flood in to build the wind farm. On top of that, their study stops in 2013 even though most of Scotland’s wind farms have come into operation since then and the cumulative impacts of wind farms across whole regions have started to make themselves felt.
“Quite how ridiculous the methodology is can be seen in the inclusion of Little Raith wind farm by Lochgelly in Central Fife, which turns out to have the by far the highest tourism-related employment of all the selected wind farm areas. This is not because any tourists visit the area around Little Raith because they want to enjoy the scenic landscape, but because a 15km radius takes in Dunfermline, Loch Leven and tthe Dysart to Dalgety Bay coast line, where Little Raith has little or no visual impact, and certainly none which would affect a visitor’s experience.
“It’s a very different story with say areas in the Highlands or Borders which people visit precisely for their unspoilt, unindustrialised landscapes.
A Survation poll for the John Muir Trust in 2012 found almost half of Scottish Highland and Island residents supported proposals to give special protection to Scottish wild land from industrial wind development, with less than a quarter opposing such measures. 49% thought the spread of wind farms would impact negatively on the tourism industry. In a poll for the Mountaineering Council of Scotland poll in March 2014 68% said parts of Scotland were now less appealing to visitors because of wind farm proliferation; 67% said wind farms made Scotland a less appealing place; two thirds said they had been put off visiting Scotland by wind farms and will not revisit places which now have wind turbines; over four fifths wanted protection for national parks and national scenic areas, with two thirds wanting buffer zones.
“I’ve rarely seen a piece of research which has so many holes in it or begs so many questions. No wonder Biggar Economics are the go-to guys for wind developers who want a report ‘proving’ their proposed wind farm won’t harm the local tourist trade. Biggar Economics are fully-paid up propagandists for the wind industry, and this report shows quite what a scamming business massaging data to show that wind farms have no adverse impacts on landscapes, tourism, house prices, wild life and water has become.”