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United Kingdom

Positive surwey of Welsh neighbours

A survey of public opinion among neighbours to a wind farm in south Wales has revealed strong local support for the project. The poll was conducted around Taff Ely wind farm in Mid Glamorgan, which has been operating for over four years. Sixty-three per cent of those questioned support the wind farm, with only 4% opposed; 32% expressed no opinion either way.

The wind farm's owner, National Wind Power, commissioned independent market research agency Robertson Bell Associates to assess the level of local support, attitudes to its visual impact and perceived effect on house prices and tourism. All 336 residents surveyed in December 1997 live within two miles of Taff Ely; 70% can see the wind farm from their properties. Most (51%) describe the visual effect of the wind farm as "all right." And more think it makes the scenery more interesting (29%) than say it spoils the scenery (17%).

More than three quarters of residents feel the wind farm has brought local benefits, with 78% able to mention at least one way it has benefited the area. What is more, 71% could not identify any negative effects. When questioned on the impact on house prices, 78% say it has had no effect, while 4% of residents say that house prices have increased and another 4% say they have decreased as a result of the wind farm; 15% say they do not know either way.

Most residents (68%) feel the number of people visiting the area has not been affected. But of those who think there is an effect, many more say that visitor numbers have increased (15%) than decreased (1%).

These results support findings of earlier local opinion surveys around UK wind farms. But -- aside from a university dissertation in 1996 -- the last independent survey was conducted in 1994. The latest poll will provide renewed ammunition to the wind industry to help it refute wild claims by Country Guardian and other anti wind energy groups. "Country Guardian have levied accusations that previous surveys were getting old," comments Kristina Freris from National Wind Power. "Taff Ely has been operating for some time, and now four years down the line, this survey shows that local people are happy."

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