Research into the impact of onshore wind turbines on tourism in Northumberland has been welcomed by a senior Labour politician.
Councillor Scott Dickinson, prospective parliamentary candidate for Berwick, hopes the various studies commissioned by Northumberland County Council will come up with answers.
Last year the council called for a study to evaluate the effect of existing and planned onshore wind turbines on the tourism industry.
The commission was split into two elements - a visitor perception study and a business impacts study - with consultants appointed in January.
A report to the council’s regeneration working group yesterday updated members on the progress of that work.
Public Knowledge, based in Hexham, was commissioned to undertake the visitor perception study. An online survey took place during March, the raw data has been analysed and the report is currently being prepared.
The Business School at Northumbria University were also commissioned to conduct two pieces of work. The first element was to undertake extensive desk based research to determine the evidence that already exists with regard to the impact of wind farms on tourism.
As part of this, the university is undertaking an assessment of the robustness of previous studies, examining whether any of this work had been effectively used to inform the statutory planning process, and assessing whether the findings were based on evidence obtained before or after the wind farms were in place.
The second element of the work, which is also on-going, seeks the opinion of tourism businesses. Firstly, an online survey was sent to tourism businesses on the Northumberland Tourism businesses database and this will be followed by a programme of stakeholder engagement through focus groups.
Councillor Dickinson, who represents Druridge Bay, said: “I welcome this piece of vital research which will help the county planning process but its a shame we’ve had to act because coalition splits on onshore wind turbines have held up a similar piece of national research.
“It’s clear that we have to protect the vitally important tourist industry which accounts for over 10,000 jobs in Northumberland and this research will be useful especially in the light of controversial onshore wind developments.”