Wind Turbines have come to symbolise hope. The image of a slowly rotating wind turbine on a blue sky represents a rose-tinted future where energy is abundant and free; global warming has been conquered (and bunnies leap gaily around fields).
But who would really want to live near a wind farm? We long for a future without rising sea levels and greenhouse gases, but opponents to wind power say this is not the solution. The most hotly debated wind power issue is ‘Why are they so ugly?” No-one, it seems, would be happy having huge grey windmills spoiling their landscape.
What is the truth? Are wind turbines really that much of an eyesore? Recently published research gives us some clues and reveals that many of our concerns may be unfounded…
The Czech Wind Farm Story
The Czech Republic is a nation with outstanding natural beauty. Most famous for it’s historical towns and pilsner beer, this Eastern European nation is heavily reliant upon the tourist industry. Also renowned for stunning mountainous scenery and national parks, it is now home to increasing numbers of wind turbines.
Czech researchers set out to answer the question “Just how ugly are wind farms?”. Choosing two comparable countryside locations, they surveyed tourists and local residents. The one difference between the regions was that one had a large, visible wind farm and the other did not…
Are Wind Farms a Turn-Off to Tourists?
The survey results revealed that, despite local’s concerns, tourists seemingly weren’t put off by wind turbines at all. This findings showed:
- People on vacation find electricity pylons and mobile phone masts more of an eyesore than wind turbines
- Nearly all visitors (over 90%) didn’t think wind turbines caused the region to be less attractive or desirable
- Wind Farms wouldn’t stop repeat visitors coming again
- The majority of tourists (65%) would go to a wind farm if there was a visitor centre!
Ah, the wind farm museum… I can see it now: Happy families emerging from the wind farm museum all wearing spinning propeller caps!
The Local’s Opinion: “Wind Farms – Not in My Back Yard!”
No surprises here: Local residents were far less accepting of wind turbines. Many a local agreed to wind turbines in principle, but they feared how it would effect the area’s image.
It seems we all want a greener, cleaner future – but one that doesn’t inconvenience us, and especially one that doesn’t affect our house price!
The researchers gave an upbeat conclusion for wind energy; but they conceded that these results may not apply to other parts of the world. However, the overwhelming finding was that our worries about the ‘ugliness’ of wind power may well be unfounded – and we should all try to base our perceptions of alternative energy on facts.
Question Marks Over Wind Power
The wind turbine stands for so much but serious concerns hang over whether this iconic invention could ever meet our energy-hungry needs. Opponents speculate that wind energy is inefficient, beset with logistical problems and ultimately unsustainable (see link below for more).
Concerns over he tourist trade are legitimate, but let’s hope is that these worries don’t stop us seeing the bigger picture…
Thanks for reading – your comments and feedback are warmly welcomed!
A possible way to Survive Global Warming
After reading this post, my father kindly emailed me a piece “Conflict in the Coutryside” he wrote about controversies surrounding Scottish Windfarms during his recent studies at Glamorgan University
Read an in-depth critique of ‘renewable energy’ (CATO Institute)
Perhaps having your own wind turbine could be a solution? (Energy Saving Trust UK)
Frantál, B., & Kunc, J. (2011). Wind turbines in tourism landscapes Annals of Tourism Research, 38 (2), 499-519 DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2010.10.007