Wind and solar farms have ‘overwhelming’ public support, poll suggests

More than three-quarters of people in England, Wales and Scotland think the government should use new wind and solar farms to reduce energy bills, according to a new survey.

More than 77 per cent of Britons back renewable technologies to tackle the rise in energy costs, according to a poll of 6,114 residents across all British constituencies commissioned by RenewableUK and published today [Wednesday 7 September] by Survation. 

The survey also reveals high levels of support for renewables across the board, with 76 per cent of all those polled supporting offshore wind, 81 per cent backing solar and 74 per cent in favour of onshore wind – and even higher backing from Tory voters for all three technologies.

“These findings are a wake-up call to every politician, including the new Prime Minister, that the overwhelming majority of people want to see new investment in renewables and are happy to see new wind and solar farms built in their local area to drive energy bills down," said RenewableUK chief executive Dan McGrail.

The poll also highlights high levels of support from people across the country for having a renewable project in their area, with 76 per cent of those quizzed saying they would back a green scheme nearby – including 81 per cent of Tory voters. Nearly two-thirds of Conservative supporters (64 per cent) think the government should end the block on onshore wind development where there is local backing for projects.

"At a time when we need to shift from expensive gas to low-cost renewables as rapidly as possible, most people agree that if local communities support having a wind farm nearby, the government shouldn’t stand in their way,” McGrail added. 

In contrast to the popularity of renewable energy sources, only 34 per cent of those polled supported fracking for gas – a policy Truss has said she would give the go-ahead where it has community support – and 56 per cent were in favour of getting energy from gas extracted from the North Sea. 

Overall, 68 per cent of respondents said they want the government to increase or maintain investment in renewables, compared with just 14 per cent who want to see it reduced.

“This new polling shows that onshore renewables are popular not only with the public but even more so with Conservative voters," said Sam Hall, director of the Conservative Environment Network.  “Renewables are popular and cheap, cut our reliance on imported fossil fuels, and support UK jobs.”

Hall urged the government to allow more solar farms to be built on unproductive land, and lift the de facto ban on onshore wind in England, provided local communities consent to projects.

Earlier this week, a report by Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) concluded that meeting the government’s four-fold increase target for offshore renewable energy by 2030 could be “potentially achievable” if the rate of wind turbine installation is doubled or tripled. Currently, as many as 46 per cent (almost 19.5GW) of potential capacity additions before 2030 are only at a concept stage, according to OEUK.

In July, Parliament debated a bill to fast-track offshore wind projects in the House of Lords, against a backdrop of record-breaking temperatures and spiralling energy bills fuelling a cost-of-living crisis. Earlier this year, the government announced a £31m fund to help drive further deployment of floating offshore wind projects, and secured 11 gigawatts of winning bids for various renewable technologies at a record-low price.

Liz Truss, who recently became the UK's Prime Minister, has said she has a “bold plan” to cut taxes and grow the UK economy and promised to “deliver” when it comes to the energy crisis by not only dealing with bills but also addressing the long-term supply issues, although she is yet to publish a detailed strategy to do so. 

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