A number of countryside organisations have warned Alex Salmond that the tide of public opinion has turned strongly against the development of more wind farms.
The John Muir Trust, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) have all rounded on the First Minister, who has committed his government to support of on-shore wind turbines.
Campaigners are fearful of the outcome of an inquiry into a proposed wind farm at Allt Duine, on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park. If approved, it will pave the way for six similar developments in some of the country’s most spectacular scenery.
“There is now a relentless march of wind turbines into areas that most people would regard as scenic wild land,” said Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust.
“The Allt Duine proposal would mean the construction of 31 turbines, each 125 metres high, which would be visible from across 100 square miles of the Cairngorms National Park. Time is running out for politicians to take positive action to keepl windfarms out of our most precious landscapes.
Ms McDade was speaking after the publication of a YouGov poll of 2,269 adults showed 43 per cent would be less likely to visit a scenic area with a large concentration of turbines. Two per cent said they would be more likely to visit and 48 per cent said it would make no difference.
Among Scots, 36 per cent said they would be less likely to visit and for 58 per cent it would make no difference. More people, 37 per cent, believe the Government should prioritise protecting the countryside from wind farms, than the 30 per cent who believe ministers should prioritise wind farms.
Ms McDade added: “We will be highlighting this poll to put pressure on governments in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast to bring forward measures to increase protection for wild and scenic land across the UK.”
A survey of attitudes among 45 tourist businesses in the Scottish Borders also revealed profound unease about the expansion of wind farms.
It found that 76 per cent of respondents said large scale turbines are unhelpful to marketing the area.
Professor Jane Bower of the APRS, said: “Many of these businesses, and a substantial number of their contractors, could become uneconomic and cease trading if even a small proportion of tourism business were lost.”