Onshore Wind Energy & Tourism in Scotland

BiGGAR Economics has undertaken a study into the relationship between onshore wind development and the tourism sector in Scotland.

The Issue

The potential impact of onshore wind energy installations on the tourism sector is often considered during the planning process.  Both of these sectors are part of key growth sectors, identified by the Scottish Government and therefore it is important to identify if there are any detrimental effects to one from the development of the other.  Since 2009, Scotland has seen a growth in both the level of onshore wind capacity installed and in the tourism sector.

Onshore Wind Capacity and Sustainable Tourism Employment in Scotland

This analysis considered what effect, if any, the development of onshore wind has had to the local tourism sector

Local Authority

The first stage of this analysis considered the potential impacts that onshore wind developments have had at a Local Authority level.  Some Local Authorities have considered the impacts of the onshore wind sector in their area, such as Scottish Borders who considered associated employment opportunities, but no studies have been undertaken which have considered the impact on the tourism sector.

Sustainable tourism Employment BY LOCAL AUTHORITY AREA

Some areas of Scotland are more reliant on the tourism sector than others.  For example, in Argyll and Bute 18.3% of the workforce are employed in tourism, while North Lanarkshire has the lowest proportion as only 5.2% of the workforce are employed in the tourism sector.  Generally, rural Local Authorities tend to have a higher dependency on tourism.


Onshore Wind Capacity by Local Authority Area

Similarly, the onshore wind capacity in Scotland is not distributed evenly between the Local Authorities.  Highland, South Lanarkshire and the Scottish Borders have the highest level of installed capacity, while some of the cities have no large wind turbines installed.  Generally rural Local Authorities have a greater level of installed onshore wind.

Between 2009 and 2013, the level of employment in tourism in Scotland increased by 10.8%.  During the same time period the number of turbines in Scotland increased by 121%.

These changes were also considered for each Local Authority in Scotland.  As is shown in the graphic below, there is no clear relationship between the growth in the onshore wind sector and growth in the tourism sector.  Areas such as Aberdeenshire have seen a larger level of growth in the number of wind turbines installed and at the same time have also seen a greater increase in the level of tourism employment.

Some of the Local Authorities with the greatest growth in tourism employment also saw the greatest rise in onshore wind installations.  However there is no overall relationship between the two factors.

Change in tourism employment and wind turbines by Local Authority

The Local Impacts

In order to consider the effects at a more local level, BiGGAR Economics considered the impacts associated with 18 wind farms across Scotland, all built between 2009 and 2013.  These are shown in the map below.

The change in tourism employment in the immediate areas surrounding was analysed for each of the wind farm case studies.  This captured trends within the tourism sector at the Local Authority level. This found that the there was a significant variation between sites and there was no overall relationship between the development of wind energy and tourism employment in an area.

In fact, in the majority of cases the level of tourism employment increased more in the immediate area surrounding a wind farm than in the wider Local Authority area.

 

The full report, including sources, is available here.

 

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Simon Cleary

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