Public support for renewables grows as concern over fracking rises
Public opposition to fracking is growing while support for renewable energy remains solid, according to the findings of a new government poll.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) new survey of public attitudes revealed that 80% of respondents support the use of renewable energy to meet Britain’s demand for electricity, fuel and heat.
Support for onshore wind reached its highest levels since DECC’s polling began in 2012, as 70% of people said they approved of such projects. Some 77% said they would also back offshore wind.
However, just 29% said they supported the extraction of shale gas through the controversial process of fracking and an increasing number of respondents said they were opposed.
These findings may trouble the coalition government, as it shows current energy policy is at odds with public opinion.
The Conservative party has pledged to cut subsidies for onshore wind developments if it wins the next general election, in a move that campaigners warn could undermine Britain’s energy security and efforts to curb climate change.
Simultaneously, the government has welcomed fracking firms to Britain with open arms.
Chancellor George Osborne has offered considerable tax-breaks to the shale gas industry while ministers prepare plans to give companies the right to drill on private land without permission.
This is despite widespread concern over the safety of the process, which has been linked to health impacts, water contamination, leakage of the potent greenhouse gas methane and an increased risk of earthquakes.
“This poll should serve as a clear wake-up call for the Conservatives,” said Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the industry trade body RenewableUK.
“When they announced a moratorium on all future onshore wind projects last week, they seriously miscalculated the public’s mood, and they’ll pay heavily for that at the ballot box.”
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