Solar and wind farms are an accepted part of the Cornish landscape, according to a new survey of holidaymakers.

The research, commissioned by Good Energy, found that the vast majority of visitors (94%) to Cornwall thought that solar and wind farms had no impact on their visit. Poor weather (17%) and the cost of holidaying (14%) were found to be the largest deterrents for holidaymakers, in contrast to just 2% who listed the presence of solar and wind farms as a reason to be less likely to visit the region.

Good Energy claims that the research is the first major investigation of holidaymakers’ thoughts on renewable installations in Cornwall. The independent survey was carried out by South West Research Company with over 1,000 holidaymakers at six popular holiday locations across Cornwall in August this year.

David Bryans, general manager at Land’s End, one of the region's most popular tourist attractions, noted that the findings of the survey were inline with his experiences, he said: “Our visitors have to travel through Cornwall to reach us so they pass a number of wind turbines on the way but not once have I had it raised as an issue. In fact many visitors I speak to, especially from overseas where there seems to be far greater acceptance of renewable energy, ask why Cornwall doesn’t make more of its abundance of natural resources, especially wind, and I must say that I agree with them.”

A recurring theme for objections to major renewable developments in the South West is that schemes could have a negative impact on tourism, undermining one of the region’s most important economic sectors. However, the new research appears to show that renewable developments have a minimal impact on holidaymakers’ attitudes with a small percentage (4%) saying that renewable developments would actually increase their willingness to visit the region again.   

Jessica Knowles, head of stakeholder engagement at Good Energy, which owns Delabole wind farm in North Cornwall, said: “What this research shows is that for the vast majority of people the presence of wind and solar farms in Cornwall has no impact on their visitor experience, and that around one in five people feel that they actually enhance their visit.”

Of those surveyed, just over a third (35%) of visitors were aware of solar farms in Cornwall, with 71% saying that their presence had no impact while 22% said that they had a positive impact. In contrast, just 7% said that solar farms had a negative impact on their visit.

Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, concluded: “Cornwall is blessed with fantastic natural energy resources which it can use to generate its own secure power, cut bills and create jobs in a thriving new industry. What this survey shows is that renewable energy can bring all these benefits to the people of Cornwall without any significant impact on tourism.”