Do onshore wind farms harm tourism?  

Onshore wind has become a major source of renewable energy across Europe over the last several decades. There is no evidence that the many onshore wind turbines now dotting rural landscapes put off tourists. On the contrary, many visitors express a positive feeling towards seeing the green transition in action. 


Does onshore wind deter tourists from visiting rural areas? 

There is no evidence to suggest that tourists are deterred by seeing onshore wind turbines in rural settings. Many tourists have a positive attitude towards them.  

Seeing green energy in action

Lush green fields, rustic stone walls, blue skies and onshore wind turbines generating reliable clean energy for the local area. The sight of an onshore wind turbine adds something different to a trip to the countryside.  

For a few, it might be a reason to consider going elsewhere. For others, seeing renewable energy in action is an added perk.  

UK study shows little concern from rural visitors 

Onshore wind farms are effective clean energy solutions and a key tool in the green energy transition toolbox.

Yet, when onshore wind turbines are placed in rural areas, they are sometimes met with opposition by locals because of their perceived negative impact – including on tourism.

However, a 2020 UK study found that “there is no published evidence to support any hypothesis suggesting that onshore windfarms either negatively or positively impact on tourism in UK rural landscapes.”

The academic study published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism found that in fact, according to survey studies, “75-90% of tourist respondents display a neutral to positive attitude towards onshore windfarms in UK rural landscapes.

The study, which specifically examined tourism in the UK’s Northumberland region, found that whatever the perceived impacts of onshore wind farms on tourism and the local economy, the actual number of tourists steadily increased year over year from 2014 until 2020.

Onshore wind farms do not deter visitors to the Emerald Isle  

Ireland’s majestic scenery has been a cornerstone of tourism to the Emerald Isle for decades.  

Given the importance visitors place on Ireland’s natural beauty, Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, conducted a study to assess visitor attitudes towards wind farms in 2012.  

The study found that 48% of visitors said viewing a wind farm had no impact on their visit, while 32% reported a positive impact and 21% reported a negative impact.2

With Ireland’s aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, it will need to greatly increase the number of renewable energy sources in the country – such as onshore wind power.  

Thankfully, according to Fáilte Ireland’s 2012 study, as many as seven out of 10 visitors said that an increase in the number of wind farms in Ireland would have no impact or a positive impact on their likelihood to visit Ireland again.3

Eco-tourism opportunity 

In some communities, onshore wind farms do double-duty as both power stations and eco-tourism hubs.  

Whitelee Windfarm, the U.K.’s largest onshore wind farm, sits just outside Glasgow, Scotland. With more than 80 miles of trails for walking, running, cycling and horseback riding, it offers a park and recreational centre for the local community, as well as an opportunity for visitors to learn more about renewable energy and see the green energy transition in action.  

1) Tom Mordue, Oliver Moss & Lorraine Johnston (2020) The impacts of onshore windfarms on a UK rural tourism landscape: objective evidence, local opposition, and national politics, Journal of Sustainable Tourism.
2) Fáilte Ireland Visitor Attitudes on the Environment Wind Farms study 2012. 
3) Ibid

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