A row has broken out between protesters fighting a proposed wind farm at Burnham-On-Sea and the developers over the impact it would have on the local tourism industry.

KNOll to Windfarm, the action group set up to oppose the proposed development of five wind turbines on land on the outskirts of the town, earlier this week raised the issue of the farm being “a risk” to the local tourist industry.

In response, Dale Vince of Ecotricity told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The Knoll group claim surveys around the world back them up, they cite just two from the UK, the first one is not about actual tourists’ views or responses and the second one is so selectively reported on as to be distorted beyond recognition. Knoll should truly be ashamed of themselves.”

How the wind farm might look [Photomontage: Ecotricity]But on Thursday (May 11th), KNOll to Windfarm hit back when spokesman Andrew Manning said: “We are intrigued that Mr Vince should use such emotive language – we wonder whether we have got him rattled?”

“We note in the planning application from Mr Vince’s organisation that the importance of tourism to the local economy is stressed, which reflects our point.”

“That is probably why he is so worried about our argument. Mr Vince’s company then also cites just two surveys to support his view that tourism would not be affected. One is the survey that we also referred to, the other carried out at Brean.”

“We would point out that, without even having seen the methodology of the survey or the questions asked, no statistician would believe that a survey of just 331 visitors to Brean would claim that this is a representative sample. The survey quoted from Scotland involved even fewer people, and its methodology has been widely discredited.”

“However, even if it is possible to put scepticism to one side, the surveys quoted support our position, not Mr. Vince’s; it is not the percentage of people who say they might still come to the area that is important, it is the percentage that won’t that is key.”

“The Brean survey that is quoted in the Ecotricity submission indicates that 3.6% of tourists would visit less often. Such falls in tourist numbers and associated revenue would put the profits of local businesses at serious risk.”

ECOTRICITY BOSS HITS BACK…

Ecotricity’s Dale Vince hit back at the comments, saying: “This adds nothing to the debate and takes nothing from the mistakes and omissions in Knoll’s previous statement. Knoll need to come up with evidence to back their claims, there’s no merit in continuing to make assertions and allegations without any supporting evidence.”

“Since we’re on the subject of opinion polls it might be relevent to ask Knoll how many members they have. And it may be worth reminding Knoll that when they first began, they said they wanted to come and meet us to discuss how wind energy is forecast and other issues – we offered to meet them anytime, but they’ve not even made contact – you have to wonder how serious Knoll are or whether it was just a posture for the press.”

Meanwhile, Ecotricity’s planning application is currently with Sedgemoor District Council and is due to be considered by members of its planning committee later in the summer.

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