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Tracker data: Favourability towards wind and solar among MPs and the public

22 November 2023

Climate Barometer tracker data across three waves (October 2022 – October 2023) shows high levels of MP support for solar and offshore wind energy. MPs have very high levels of support for offshore wind, but typically have less less favourable attitudes towards onshore wind than the public (though this gap may be starting to close).

The latest from the Renewables timeline:

Policy Insight 22nd November 2023

Autumn Statement: Discounts on energy bills to be provided to households living near new electricity transmission infrastructure

In the Chancellor Jeremy Hunnt’s Autumn Statement, it was confirmed that households living near proposed new electricity transmission infrastructure (i.e. the pylons and power lines required to transmit electricity from offshore wind and other renewable sources, to households) would be offered discounts on their electricity bills. The Chancellor said:

‘Following consultation earlier this year, we confirm that we are currently minded to provide both an electricity bill discount for properties located closest to transmission network infrastructure and a wider community benefit. The wider community benefit will be co-developed by the project developer and local community to best reflect community preferences. Our response to the consultation has been published alongside this document. We intend to publish guidance on wider community benefits in 2024. This guidance will be voluntary whilst we explore options for a mandatory approach. We will provide further information on the overall community benefits policy, including bill discounts and options for developing a mandatory approach, in 2024.’

Climate Barometer Tracker 22nd November 2023

Tracker data: The public and MPs overestimate opposition to local solar

Across all regions of the UK, people’s support for the construction of a new solar park in their area is overwhelming high (typically over three quarters support), and opposition is low (10% or less). Yet both the public and MPs tend to underestimate support, and overestimate opposition. This figure shows three waves of Climate Barometer polling of the public, between October 2022 to October 2023.

Despite the overwhelming support from the public for the construction of a new solar park in their area, when asked if “other people” would support the new development, even the public underestimates support – and overestimates opposition. While support has hovered around 80% in favour, much lower numbers (39-45%) believe that, in their area, others support, than oppose a new solar farm.

Even so, the public’s guess is closer than MPs: only around 30% tend to believe that in their constituency, “more would support than oppose” a new solar farm.

Wider research suggests that a ‘quiet majority’ effect may explain why people think there is more opposition than there really is to solar energy. In focus groups, More in Common found that many people expressed a reluctance to voice their (majority) support for green energy developments, for fear of seeming confrontational in the face of louder (but minority) opposition.

Played out in community after community, this hesitation to articulate support for solar and other forms of green energy is likely to be creating a false sense of where public opinion really sits.

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