Poll warning to tourist industry

51% of Scots reluctant to visit scenic areas with turbines, pylons and quarries.

A YouGov poll for the John Muir Trust has found that 51 per cent of people in Scotland would be ‘less likely to visit a scenic area which contains large-scale developments (e.g. commercial wind farms, quarries, pylons)’. This compares to just 2 per cent who say say they would be ‘more likely’ to visit a rural area with such visible structures. Of the others, 28 per cent say it would ‘make no difference’; 9 per cent say they would ‘definitely not visit this area anyway’ (irrespective of development); and 10 per cent ‘don’t know’.

The same poll found that 75 per cent of Scots support the proposal that ‘the 20 per cent of Scotland’s landscape identified as core wild land – rugged, remote and free from modern visible human structures – should be given be special protection from inappropriate development including wind farms.’ Only six per cent oppose the proposal.

The poll also found that over 94 per cent of Scots visit rural areas for leisure – and that the most popular consideration in choosing a destination is natural beauty, including sense of wildness, scenery, wildlife. Asked to give up to two reasons for their choice, natural beauty (61 per cent) was rated far ahead of other factors, including cost (34 per cent); culture and history (31 per cent); facilities (24 per cent); outdoor activities such as fishing and cycling (10 per cent); and local cuisine (10 per cent).

Helen McDade, John Muir Trust head of policy, said: “Some politicians have suggested that wind farms could be a tourist attraction. This poll shows that for every tourist who might be enticed into an area by the presence of wind turbines, another 25 will be deterred from visiting that same area.

“The John Muir Trust values wild land for its own sake, but we also recognise that the rugged beauty of many our landscapes provides an vital economic lifeline for many of our most fragile and remote communities. In the Highlands, tourism is the biggest employment sector by far, supporting 18,000 jobs – nine times more than are employed in the onshore wind industry across the whole of Scotland.”

“We expect that the stark findings of this poll will encourage tourist agencies and businesses, especially in the Highlands, to get involved in the debate now underway over wild land protection.”

John Muir Trust YouGov Wild Land Data 2013