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Wind turbines ‘lesser of two evils’ shows survey


Would you rather live near wind turbines than a fracking well? If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be in the minority, as a recent poll suggests.

Over 65% of the 2,000 people who took part in a survey by ICM for Co-Operative Energy stated that they favour the wind turbine, while just 14% back shale gas operations such as fracking.

Interestingly, neither wind turbines nor fracking were the most popular energy choice among the respondents, with 30% choosing solar energy as their most preferred source.  To many of us, the preference for solar energy probably does not come as surprise, given the surge in popularity of solar panels for homes in recent years.  Certainly, it is more surprising that a meagre 2% said they would like to get their power from shale or fracked gas. Whilst some might suggest a low result could easily have been predicted, the outcome was perhaps lower than might have been anticipated.

Revisiting the generally favourable wind turbines, 53% of those quizzed said they would be supportive of a wind turbine being set up within two miles of their home, while 19% admitted being likely to oppose such a development.

Other interesting findings from the survey included:

  • Almost half of all respondents were in favour of paying a small amount on their bill to support renewable energy projects
  • A similar number blamed the increase in bills on energy companies’ desire for profits
  • 17% believed that these rises were a consequence of green tax levies

Should the government be concerned?

There have been recent attempts by the government to curb onshore wind turbines and other renewable energy sources in favour of fracking, and it is safe to say that respondents to the survey were not fully in agreement with this approach.

Out of all the Conservative supporters who participated in the survey, more than half (58%) confirmed that they preferred the idea of maintaining and expanding the use of wind turbines. In contrast, only 23% backed the proposal surrounding fracking wells as the best alternative, such as Cuadrilla’s recently rejected Lancashire fracking application (a decision which is currently being appealed).

The results of the poll also indicated that the participants were reaching out to the government to help communities.  Almost 80% urged the government to do more to assist communities to generate their own power and retain the profits.  An even more resounding finding was that 67% of respondents were in favour of all types of renewables projects near their homes, as long as they were controlled and owned by the local community so that local people benefited from the profits.

What did Co-Operative Energy have to say about all this?

Amidst recent suggestions that ministers plan to cut small-scale renewable projects, Co-Operative Energy’s Ramsay Dunning pointed to the survey as the basis for his response. He said: “The overwhelming picture from our poll is that the British public support renewable, and, most importantly, community energy generation.

Therefore, the government’s decision to withdraw their support from the renewable sector is extremely disappointing and at odds with popular opinion. Not only is support for onshore wind and solar power as strong as ever, but people actually want to be involved in local, community-owned projects in their own backyard.”

Ramsay went on to add: “There is a real appetite amongst the general public to see renewable energy grow and prosper, but with more emphasis on community energy schemes which allow local communities to share the rewards.”

Have you been affected either positively or negatively by a renewable energy scheme close to where you live?

Are you concerned about the government leaning more towards fracking than wind turbines as a renewable energy source?

Your renewable energy contact at Harrison Drury is Katie Kozlowska. Katie heads up the team of Renewable Energy lawyers at our offices in Preston. For help, advice, and more information on how cuts to the feed-in-tariff for solar energy may impact on your business, contact Katie on 01772 258321.

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