Research by a University of St Andrew's academic has confirmed what many opinion polls conducted by the wind industry have already found -- that large majorities of people are strongly in favour of their local wind farm. Only those living near sites where a wind farm is proposed, but not yet built, are less convinced. A team led by Charles Warren conducted research around the existing Dun Law wind farm and the Black Hill project in the Scottish Borders and around Currabwee, Milane Hill, Beenageeha and Tursillagh wind farms in south-west Ireland. Tourism is important economically in both regions, which are known for their scenic beauty. Warren discovered that most people found that their worries about visual effects and noise were unfounded, with "surprising numbers" finding the wind farms a positive addition. The most favourable views were given by those living closest to the sites, the research finds. While 88% of those surveyed around Dun Law supported the wind farm, the figure dropped around the proposed Black Hill project to 63%. "The press, it seems, give disproportionate emphasis to the vocal minority that opposes wind power while ignoring the silent, contented and less newsworthy majority," says Warren. Nonetheless, he calls for a strategic planning framework to guide development and deal with cumulative effects of wind developments. "Site selection and scale are crucial and cumulative impacts must be considered," he says. The researchers found that opponents and supporters of wind development see through different lenses -- zoomed in and zoomed out. Opponents focus on local effects such as noise and landscape impact, while supporters are occupied by global environmental problems and renewables' role as part of the solution.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol