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NH - UNH Research: New Hampshire coastal recreationists support offshore wind

As the Biden administration announces a plan to expand the development of offshore wind energy development (OWD) along the East Coast, research from the University of New Hampshire shows significant support from an unlikely group, coastal recreation visitors.

September 19, 2018

From boat enthusiasts to anglers, researchers found surprisingly widespread support with close to 77% of coastal recreation visitors supporting potential OWD along the N.H. Seacoast.

"This study takes a closer look at the lingering assumption that offshore wind in the United States might hurt coastal recreation and tourism when in fact, we found the opposite," said Michael Ferguson, assistant professor of recreation management and policy. "Our findings suggest that offshore wind energy development will likely have little impact on coastal recreation and tourism, and in some instances, may even help amplify visitation."

In the study, recently published in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, researchers collected data from N.H. coastal recreation visitors using on-site surveys at 18 different locations along the seacoast, including beaches, marinas, boat launches, angling locations and yacht clubs. They surveyed a variety of visitors from sightseeing and charter operators to beach goers, surfers and anglers assessing overall perceptions toward acceptance, support, fit, and recreation impact of OWD. The researchers found that when asked about OWD, 77% of coastal visitors were supportive, 73% were accepting and 58% agreed that OWD would fit the N.H. seascape.

To help coastal recreation visitors visualize what a commercial scale offshore wind farm would look like on the N.H. Seacoast, the researchers showed 50% of respondents a photo simulation of an OWD project while the other 50% of respondents did not view it. Findings indicated that it did not matter if respondents saw the photo simulation of not, their attitudes remained the same; largely positive and supportive. Additionally, most respondents agreed that OWD would not cause them to alter or substitute their recreation activities, behaviors, or experiences.

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