Britain loves onshore wind, contrary to popular belief

Three-quarters of the British public back onshore wind power - more than double the level of support for fracking - but there remains a clear difference between perception and reality when it comes to assessing this support, a new survey has revealed.

Climate change charity 10:10 has today (20 October) released the results of an opinion poll carried out by market research and consultancy firm ComRes, which reveals the British public’s overwhelming support for onshore wind – 73% of the 2037 people surveyed claiming they support the technology.

Interestingly, the report also shows that just one in 10 people (11%) believe that at least 71% of the nation supports the deployment of onshore wind technology. Similarly, 83% said they support solar farms, while only one in five people (21%) think that 71% or more people in the UK support it – demonstrating a clear difference between public perception and reality on public support for renewables.

Lead campaigner at 10:10 Max Wakefield said: “The UK public love wind power and they don’t even realise. Onshore wind is already the cheapest tool we have to achieve energy independence, keep bills under control and tackle climate change. And, unlike Government pet projects like fracking, it’s really popular. It’s time for a fresh debate about onshore wind in the UK: with such high public support, it can’t just be hung out to dry”.

The survey goes on to find that two thirds of people living in rural areas say they support onshore wind farms (65%) – a lower rate than those living in urban areas (75%). Similar differences were found when splitting the results by age, with 77% of 18 to 24-year-olds supporting onshore wind, compared with 66% of over 65s.

Additionally, 73% of both men and women support onshore wind, despite established significant gender divides when it comes to fracking and nuclear (42% of men support fracking, compared with 27% of women; 61% of men support nuclear, compared with 33% of women).

Scottish success

The poll also demonstrates that Scotland – where the majority of wind power is deployed – continues to support onshore wind power solutions at a higher rate than the rest of the UK (80% public support).

Commenting on the results, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “It’s great to know that support in Scotland for renewables, especially onshore wind, remains at such high levels. The reality is that, when given a choice, the public will always support clean renewables over polluting fossil fuels of nuclear power.

“As well as powering our homes and businesses, renewables are helping to cut carbon and support over 20,000 jobs across the country. With such great public support, ministers should press on to ensure Scotland becomes the EU’s first fully renewable electricity nation.”

The survey comes after the UK Government has taken a series of punitive measures over the past few years to effectively halt the deployment of new onshore wind farms. Projects can no longer access the Renewable Obligation (RO) subsidy scheme and there are no clear plans in place to allow them to access financial support through the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme – driving away many potential onshore wind investors.

Commenting on the Government’s decreasing support for onshore wind, Wakefield from 10:10 said: “Back in 2014, before [then Prime Minister] David Cameron put opposition to onshore wind in the Conservative manifesto, he told the House of Commons Liaison Committee that people were ‘fed up’ with wind farms. But it’s plainly not true onshore wind is unpopular with the UK public.

“It’s not just our poll today, again and again the data shows this. It’s time our politicians caught up.”

In response to the support shown in this poll, 10:10 is launching a pro-onshore wind campaign today, called ‘Blown Away’. Through this campaign, 10:10 is inviting people to show their support for the renewable energy technology via a number of community engagement activities.

Alex Baldwin

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