Public support for wind energy underestimated, finds ComRes poll

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 20 October 2016 in News

ComRes finds 73 per cent of the British public back onshore wind farms, with the figure rising to 80 per cent in Scotland

Wind turbine - credit: PA

Public support for wind power is much higher than is widely believed, according to new polling from ComRes.

The poll found 73 per cent of the British public back onshore wind farms, with the figure rising to 80 per cent in Scotland.

Meanwhile ComRes also found that, across the UK, just 34 per cent backed fracking.


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The polling, which was done on behalf of climate change charity 10:10, found that just 17 per cent of respondents opposed onshore wind. Support was even high among those close to windfarms, with 65 per cent of those in rural areas expressing support.

It found that although nearly three-quarters support onshore wind, the people tend to underestimate levels of public support, with only 11 per cent saying they believe the technology has support from 71 per cent or more of the population.

Meanwhile although 83 per cent say they support solar farms, just 21 per cent said they believe 71 per cent or more people in the UK back it.

Max Wakefield, lead campaigner at 10:10, said: “Back in 2014, before 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.

“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 polling comes as new analysis of press coverage found onshore wind received two and a half times as many overall negative editorial and comment pieces as positive ones.

The research, conducted by Sandra Bernick of Imperial College London, found that for every four problems raised about onshore wind in the articles, there was only one argument stressing the benefits.

But articles on fracking tended to emphasise the positives, with only two out of five arguments raising concern over possible risks.

Berncik found that 15 per cent of fracking pieces included in the research examined both risks and benefits, whereas only six per cent of the wind pieces did.

The ComRes poll found 77 per cent of 18-24s support onshore wind compared to 66 per cent of over 65s.

Views of fracking varied by gender, with 42 per cent of men in support of the technique, compared to 27 per cent of women.

The divide was even greater on nuclear energy, with 61 per cent men expressing support, compared with 33 per cent of women.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks welcomed the news, saying: “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 ComRes poll was based in interviews with 2,037 British adults online aged over 18 between 12th and 13th October 2016.

Sandra Bernick used Factiva to find articles from the British national print media for the period 01 January 2011 to 21 September 2016 on onshore wind and fracking, then ran sentiment and framing analysis.



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