The following article is by Matthew Nott of Clean Energy for Eternity and has been published in the December 23 Bega District News. It follows up on our previous post on the community debate around Epuron’s proposed wind farm at Eden in southern NSW.
ACCORDING to the Wind Energy Association, there are no Australian studies to substantiate the claim that wind farms will harm tourism.
On the contrary, polls and anecdotal evidence in Australia indicate the opposite may be true – wind farms are more likely to attract tourists.
In 2001, a poll in Victoria asked respondents “Specifically thinking about the tourism impact of building windmills, would you be more or less likely to visit a coastal area for a holiday or day trip if there were electricity generating windmills in the area.”
The results showed that 36 per cent of respondents were more likely to visit a coastal area if it had a wind farm, while 55 per cent said it would make no difference.
Only eight per cent said it would deter them from visiting.
Hundreds of thousands of people visit Australian wind farms each year. Here are some examples of tourist numbers visiting wind farms in high value coastal regions in Australia, as taken from the Wind Energy Association website.
Codrington, Victoria: The Codrington wind farm currently attracts 50,000 visitors per year.
For those who want to stop and take a look, a tour company has been specifically set up to meet tourism demands and site tours are run up to six times a week.
Woolnorth, Tasmania: Hydro Tasmania has contracted tour operator Woolnorth Tours to conduct one-hour, half-day and full-day tours of the wind farm.
The then Liberal leader Rene Hidding called upon the Tasmania Government to push for wind farm tourism and to establish a Centre for Excellence in Renewable Energy and Visitor Interpretation Site near the wind farm, which “would become a major drawcard for the region and capitalise on increased visitor arrivals on the Spirit of Tasmania vessels,” according to Mr Hidding.
He also added, “This wind farm has the potential to be a ‘must see’ tourism attraction”.
Esperance, WA: The Salmon Beach (recently closed) and 10 Mile Lagoon Wind farms were visited by about 50,000 people each year.
Although wind farms have been in operation in the region for over 20 years, visitor numbers have not declined over time.
Albany, WA: According to the city’s economic development manager, John Berry, traffic counters suggest about 100,000 people visited the wind farm last year.
The site has “the potential to be a premier WA tourism icon based on the sheer size of the structures and magnificent coastal setting”.
It is fair enough to be concerned about the visual impact of wind farms. It seems unreasonable to complain about their impact on tourism.