Majority of rural residents approve of wind farms

Despite the mass publicity generated by anti-wind farm protestors, an independent survey by MORI has found that 71% of rural residents in Devon support the use of wind power.

The survey also found that 71% of rural residents supported the use of biomass power in the county.

MORI interviewed people face-to-face in 13 locations across urban and rural Devon between 2nd and 16th October on behalf of Regen SW, the renewable energy agency for the South West. Its results are in keeping with a poll conducted on behalf of the Scottish Executive last year, which showed high levels of public support for windfarms in Scotland (see related story).

“Devon has a name for being the hardest county in England to get public acceptance for new renewable energy schemes. This poll suggests that this reputation is unfair,” said Matthew Spencer, Chief Executive of Regen SW. “We tend to only hear from people who oppose new developments, but this poll adds to evidence that the vast majority are in favour of renewable energy.”

One of the strongest objections to wind farm development is through the visual impact they have on the countryside. However, this opinion poll found 28% of respondents like the look of windfarms against 24% who don’t like the look of them, suggesting the ‘anti’ brigade is not as large as is sometimes claimed.

Perhaps more telling though, is the fact that the majority of people (47%) had no strong feelings either way about the appearance of wind farms, reflecting the apathy that most people have for public decision making, be it political or environmental.

“The debate around renewable energy schemes focuses almost exclusively on opposition to schemes, because it is driven by who shouts loudest. This poll suggests that the debate is out of step with public opinion in the countryside, where a silent majority support renewable energy and where most schemes will be built,” added Matthew Spencer.

By David Hopkins

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