A new research report from BiGGAR Economics has found no link between wind farm development and trends in tourism jobs.
The growth of the onshore wind sector and whether it has had any impact on the tourism sector has been a subject of much debate in Scotland. BiGGAR Economics works in both the tourism and onshore wind sectors and so undertook this research to investigate whether there was any link.
Both onshore wind and tourism employment have been growing in Scotland. Between 2009 and 2015 the installed capacity of onshore wind increased from 2.0 gigawatts (GW) to 5.3 GW, while the number of jobs in the sustainable tourism sector (as defined by the Scottish Government key sector statistics) increased by 15%.
However, the study also examined trends at the local authority level and in the local areas around 28 wind farms constructed in Scotland between 2009 and 2015. In the majority of cases sustainable tourism employment performed better in areas surrounding wind farms than in the wider local authority area. There was no pattern, which emerged that would suggest that onshore wind farm development has had a detrimental impact on the tourism sector, even at a very local level.
Overall, the conclusion of this study was that “published national statistics on employment in sustainable tourism demonstrates that there is no relationship between the development of onshore wind farms and tourism employment at the level of the Scottish economy, at local authority level nor in the areas immediately surrounding wind farm development“.