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Overwhelming support for ‘backyard’ renewable energy schemes, survey finds



More than half (53%) of UK households would support the construction of a wind turbine within two miles of their home according to a new poll into attitudes towards renewable energy by Co-operative Energy. The research reveals widespread public support for local renewable energy projects in the wake of the Government’s decision to consult on the withdrawal of subsidies for community energy generation investment.

The poll of 2,000 UK adults, commissioned ahead of Community Energy Fortnight which started last weekend (5th September), revealed that 78% would support local renewable energy projects, including wind turbines, that are owned and controlled locally with the profits generated benefitting the community.

Ramsay Dunning at Co-operative Energy said: “Our findings fly in the face of the general perception that Britain is a nation of ‘nimbys’ who object to wind turbines and other energy generation initiatives being located close to home.”

Support for solar is also strong. According to the poll, it’s the most popular form of electricity generation among the British public – 30% say it would be their preferred source and almost two thirds (65%) said they would support a solar farm project within two miles of their home.

Shale gas is the least preferred method of energy generation, with just 2% of public support.

The findings were largely consistent regardless of the respondents’ political party affiliations, suggesting that issues of renewable energy investment are apolitical.

Ramsay Dunning at Co-operative Energy 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 its support from the renewable sector is extremely disappointing and at odds with popular opinion.

“Not only is support for onshore wind and solar as strong as ever but people actually want to be involved in local, community-owned projects in their own backyard. There is a real appetite amongst the general public alike to see renewable energy grow and prosper, but with more emphasis on community energy schemes which allow local communities to share the rewards. Any changes to the UK’s flagship Feed-in Tariff Scheme should allow for continuation of the UK’s community energy revolution.”

Giles Bristow, Director of Programmes, Forum for the Future who act as Secretariat for the Community Energy Coalition, said: “This data shows that there is consistent support for an energy system powered by renewables, confirming the Government’s own survey findings on public attitudes. Public support rises even further when communities own their renewables supply – literally thousands of communities have sought to develop projects in their own backyard.

“This month’s Community Energy Fortnight is an opportunity to experience first-hand how communities can take control and go about owning, generating and saving energy. We would urge ministers and civil servants to take this opportunity and be inspired by the fantastic work going on across the country and reassess their current lack of support for community energy projects”.

Age was a significant factor in the degree to which people support local onshore wind schemes. Amongst 18-24 year olds there is enormous support, with 62 percent supportive and just 11 percent against. With over 65’s there is less support, with 43 percent for and 33 percent against.

However, if wind farms are owned by, and for the benefit of, local communities then even older age groups showed a marked support for developments near where they live, with 59 percent of people aged over 65 expressing support and just 15 percent opposition.

A sizeable majority of the public said they were still happy to pay a small levy on their energy bills to support the growth of renewable energy: 47 percent were in favour, with 30 percent against.


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