And more than nine out of ten people say wind and solar farms wouldn't affect their decision to visit the county again
Wind and solar farms have become an accepted part of the Cornish landscape and can even enhance the visitor experience, according to a major new survey of holidaymakers in Cornwall.
The research, conducted throughout the peak holiday month of August, found that for the majority of visitors the presence of wind and solar farms in Cornwall had no impact on their visit. Furthermore, more people said both wind and solar farms had a positive impact on their holiday compared with those who said they had a negative impact.
Asked whether the presence of wind and solar farms would make a difference to their decision to visit Cornwall again, more than nine out of ten (94%) said they would make no difference whatsoever, while 4% of holidaymakers said they would actually encourage them to visit again and 2% said they would be less likely to visit again as a result.
The risk of poor weather (17%) and the cost of holidaying (14%) were cited as the biggest potential deterrents to future visits, compared with just 2% of visitors saying the presence of wind and solar farms was likely to deter them from taking another holiday in Cornwall in the future.
The findings come from what is believed to be the first major survey of its kind into holidaymakers' attitudes to renewable energy schemes in Cornwall, and the potential impact on visitor perceptions and the leisure economy.
The independent research was carried out by the Exeter-based South West Research Company and involved 200 hours of face-to-face interviews with 1,007 holidaymakers at six holiday locations across Cornwall from 1st to 30th August this year.
David Bryans, General Manager at Land's End, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cornwall with more than 400,000 visitors a year, said the survey findings were in line with his experience:
"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."
The research was commissioned by South West green electricity supplier Good Energy following concerns about the potential impact of wind and solar farms on the visitor economy in popular holiday destinations like Cornwall.
Visitors were asked about their attitudes towards renewable energy, levels of awareness of wind and solar farms in Cornwall, and the extent to which these developments affected the visitors' enjoyment of their holidays and their willingness to visit again in the future.
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."
The research found that 80% of visitors were in favour of renewable energy in general as a means of generating power, with around three-quarters supporting wind farms (74%) and solar farms (75%) specifically as ways of doing this.
Of the 90% of visitors who were aware of wind farms in Cornwall, 71% said the presence of turbines had no impact on their visit, while almost one in five (19%) said wind farms had a positive impact on their visit compared with 10% who said they had a negative impact.
Just over a third (35%) of visitors were aware of solar farms in Cornwall of whom 71% said their presence had no impact; 22% said there was a positive impact, and 7% said they had a negative impact.
Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, the regional sustainable energy agency, commented: "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."
The survey was conducted among adults aged 16-plus who were on a holiday or leisure-related visit to Cornwall staying for at least one night during August.
Surveys were carried out on a random basis along the seafront or beach areas at Padstow, Perranporth, Tintagel/Trebarwith, Widemouth Bay, Newquay and Penzance.