The recent public attitudes survey conducted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) displayed overwhelming support for renewable energy. But as well as providing clean, limitless energy to the UK, respondents also showed support for the economic and community benefits of renewables.
Over two-thirds (69%) believed that the UK’s economy would be better off if clean energy industries and developments were pushed to the forefront of the agenda.
The much-talked-about ‘dash for gas’ that has been the cause of so much deliberation within DECC in recent months is a strategy favoured by the chancellor George Osborne. But a report from last year by WWF-UK and Greenpeace showed that there were greater economic benefits from investing in renewables than gas – something which the vast majority of the public appears to agree with.
Interestingly, over half of respondents (55%) said they would be happy for a large-scale renewable energy development to be built in their area.
Anti-wind campaigners are often blessed with powerful platforms to air their opposition, which can sometimes make the debate seem like it’s balanced. However, the DECC survey showed that only 19% would be against large-scale projects in their area.
One way round opposition from locals is to maximise the community benefits of clean energy developments. Successful projects ran by Westmill and Gen Community – which allow people to invest in renewables, getting both clean energy to their homes (if they’re local) and an adequate return – are perfect examples of just how impactful such schemes can be.
The DECC survey found that 78% of the public believe community benefits are integral to developing local renewables projects – with just 5% against.