Agent claims litter turns off tourists - not turbines

AN agent who has submitted an application to site a 45.2 metre wind turbine at Fellowhills Farm, Swinton, has claimed that visitors to the Borders are more likely to be put off the area by “a massive litter problem”, rather than wind turbines.

Dr James Bell, of Carleton Border Services Ltd, who is applying for planning consent on behalf of Ian Martin of Norham, says in his application that objectors fail to take account of the “real issues” surrounding the discouragement of visitors, and points to a “massive litter problem” as an important turn-off for tourists.

In the amended application to erected a single turbine on land north east of the Fellowhills farmhouse, which is currently at the public consultation stage, Dr Bell says it is “somewhat disingenuous” for objectors to claim that wind turbines cause tourists to be discouraged from visiting Scotland, as this point of view “disregards the significant cultural and genealogical heritage of our wonderful country, and seeks only to rely on visual landscape as being the sole attractant.”

He claims: “This opinion also fails to take account of the real issues surrounding discouragement of tourists – including most importantly the massive litter problem spoiling all locations including the visual landscapes.

“There is plenty of visible evidence at road junctions and in the countryside of the irresponsible dispersal of litter.”

Dr Bell adds that there have been instances of plastic bags blowing around stock fields, and says that he himself has come across broken beer bottles left lying close to sheep on a national footpath at an iconic viewpoint.

He continues: “It is unpalatable for landowners to face disreputable accusations, whilst at the same time having to tend stock damaged by irresponsible visitors.

“Perhaps more effort should be put into solving these real problems before making subjective comments, and objectors should ponder on the unacceptable and in some cases fatal effects on stock before launching their tirades.”

The application for the single turbine at Fellowhills Farm was submitted last month, following an original application in October 2011 for a 54 metre high turbine.

After proving unpopular with the local community, the siting has now been altered so that the turbine would be screened from the historic Ladykirk Church, and the height at the hub has also been reduced since the original application, from 39 to 30 meters.

But Swinton and Ladykirk Community Council chair Meg Reid said that the amendments had done little to appease residents’ concerns.

She said: “We have discussed this application and it’s quite controversial because it’s a massive turbine. Although the original application was withdrawn and the height of the turbine has been reduced, it has actually now been put on higher ground, so it would be just as high in the sky as it was previously.”

Addressing Dr Bell’s comments about litter and tourism in the application, she added: “Litter is not a problem here - tourists are not going to be put off coming to Swinton and Ladykirk because there is a stray crisp packet on the floor that has blown out of somebody’s bin.”

Paula McDonald, regional director for Visit Scotland, said: “There is no evidence to suggest that the Borders suffers from a litter problem more than anywhere else in Scotland and none of our research shows that this is putting visitors off coming to the area.”

She added: “The Borders offers a fantastic visitor experience in terms of built heritage, local produce and excellent walking and cycling opportunities and we work in partnership with the Scottish Borders Council and local tourism businesses to promote the great things to see and do and places to stay in the region. Everyone has a responsibility to help in this matter by ensuring they pick up their litter and keep the area looking its best.”

In a separate application to erect two 46 metre wind turbines on land south west of Stewards Cottage, Jedburgh, Dr Bell again cited a litter problem as a factor discouraging tourists from visiting the area, along with “atrocious service” and “poor accommodation”.