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  • Overview
  • Nov '23
    Making sense of public and MP opinion on renewables
  • Autumn Statement: Discounts on energy bills to be provided to households living near new electricity transmission infrastructure
  • Tracker data: Favourability towards wind and solar among MPs and the public
  • Tracker data: The public and MPs overestimate opposition to local solar
  • Conservative Environment Network polling: Widespread support for local green energy development
  • Tracker data: Public support for new local pylons
  • Oct '23
    Comment: Net Zero in My Back Yard
  • Communities near wind farms will receive £300 incentive
  • Polling during Labour Party conference: There is support for removing fossil fuels from electricity generation by 2030
  • Public First: UK public backs a move towards energy independence.
  • Sep '23
    Labour Party confirms plans for GB Energy ahead of 2023 conference
  • Ipsos polling: Renewable energy infrastructure is a priority for Britons
  • Jul '23
    Onward report: Local benefits increase rural support for renewable energy projects
  • May '23
    YouGov tracker: Public consistently in favour of government subsidies for solar development
  • Apr '23
    More in Common: Britain’s ‘quiet majority’ want less talk and more action on green energy
  • Nov '22
    Ipsos MORI polling: Britons want subsidies on environmentally friendly tech (but few want higher taxes on non-renewable energy sources)
  • Oct '22
    YouGov tracker: Wind power continues to be the most popular form of energy generation
  • May '19
    Poll reveals MP misperceptions over onshore wind
Topic

Renewables

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  • In Brief

    Renewable sources of energy generate around 45% of the UK’s electricity mix. They are highly popular among the public, including when they are built locally.

    With planning rules on onshore wind now finally being relaxed after a long period of tight restrictions (a single objection could prevent planning approval), the ‘Great Grid Upgrade’ is now getting underway. This means a large number of new pylons and power lines are required – a debate which is likely to take centre stage.

    The challenge for scaling up renewable energy generation is not primarily public opposition or controversy, but loud (minority) local opposition, and the influence this maintains over political decision making.

    MPs’ opinions – especially among Conservatives on onshore wind – continue to be out of step with what the public actually thinks.

    But is this gap closing or widening as the roll out of green energy infrastructure accelerates?

  • 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: Favourability towards wind and solar among MPs and the public

    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).

    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.

    Opinion Insight 7th November 2023

    Conservative Environment Network polling: Widespread support for local green energy development

    Polling by Public First for the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) was carried out in 19 Conservative-held seats in the summer of 2023. The seats were selected for their proximity to existing or proposed major renewable energy developments in the East of England and Oxfordshire.

    While the majority would like to see green energy development and new housing in their local area, around a third of both Labour and Conservative voters chose renewable development over the building of new homes.

    76% of those surveyed said the rollout of renewable energy so far had been too slow, and 45% would ‘actively support’ or ‘not mind’ a wind farm being built within sight of a window in their home.

    The results underscore a growing body of evidence which shows – in national level polling, focus groups and constituency level polling – consistent support for building renewables. They stand in contrast to the perception held by Conservative MPs, which significantly overestimates the level of opposition among their own voters and the population more widely.

    Read more about ‘perception gaps’ in our Climate Barometer topic thread.

    Climate Barometer Tracker 3rd November 2023

    Tracker data: Public support for new local pylons

    The latest Climate Barometer tracker data (October 2023) shows public support for new pylons and power lines being built locally. Although opposition is slightly higher among Conservative voters, there’s still a clear majority in favour, echoing the findings of an in-depth Public First study of voters’ perceptions of green energy developments in 19 Conservative-held rural constituencies.

    Policy Insight 19th October 2023

    Communities near wind farms will receive £300 incentive

    As part of relaxing planning rules around onshore wind developments, communities near wind farms will be offered incentives of £300

    Climate Barometer tracker data shows that onshore wind is a highly popular energy source, including a willingness to live near to a wind farm. However, public opinion has been misrepresented by Conservative MPs who significantly underestimate public support.

    Opinion Insight 9th October 2023

    Polling during Labour Party conference: There is support for removing fossil fuels from electricity generation by 2030

    YouGov polling in October 2023 (during the Labour Party conference) shows more support (50%) than opposition (31%) for decarbonising the electricity supply by 2030. Among Conservative party voters, the balance of support-opposition is reversed.

    Whilst this level of support is lower than that generally seen for renewables (which is typically more than 70%), the 2030 target is a policy goal that some industry figures consider ambitious and will require – as analysis by Public First into the infrastructure required to decarbonise the grid has shown – ‘hitting the ground running’ if Labour takes power at the next election.

    Opinion Insight 5th October 2023

    Public First: UK public backs a move towards energy independence.

    Public First conducted a poll between 27 September and 2 October 2022 with a sample of 2,000 British adults, and ran four focus groups. They found:

    • People are worried about their livelihoods during the winter and want to hear a plan to ensure that the energy crisis never happens again.
    • Focus groups viewed energy independence as something that the UK should be striving to achieve.
    • Participants did not see independence as cutting the UK off from our neighbours – they wanted to maintain import routes – but were keen on the idea that the UK produces its own energy and were confident this would lower bills.
    • The UK public also continue to favour renewable technology over coal, oil and fracking – and believe that renewables will be cheaper in the long run as well as reducing our reliance on imports.
    Policy Insight 28th September 2023

    Labour Party confirms plans for GB Energy ahead of 2023 conference

    The Labour Party has pledged to create Great British Energy, a new, publicly-owned clean energy company to make the UK ‘energy independent’ and deliver 100% clean energy by 2030.

    • Source: The Labour Party
    • Date: 28th September 2023
    Opinion Insight 25th September 2023

    Ipsos polling: Renewable energy infrastructure is a priority for Britons

    Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are among the most popular forms of energy generation among Britons. Among energy sources, solar and wind are regarded as producing the lowest emissions, and having the greatest impact when it comes to tackling climate change.

    Ipsos polling shows that Britons feel split about the current quality of renewable energy infrastructure in the UK (solar/wind), with 48% rating it as very/fairly good, and 39% rating it as very/fairly poor. 

    The majority (70%) feel that infrastructure in Britain has not been adapted enough to cope with future changes in climate, and 65% of Britons feel that infrastructure isn’t being built quickly enough. Britons are also less resistant to increasing spending on infrastructure than citizens of other countries, even if it means higher taxes or more government borrowing. According to the public, solar energy infrastructure should be among the highest priorities for Britain’s investment (40%). 

    In fact, a separate poll by Ipsos shows that renewable energy features highly among the priorities for Britain, with wind and solar featuring as one of the top five “most in need of improvement” areas of Britain’s infrastructure, alongside roads, schools, hospitals, courthouses, as well as housing, and water supply/sewerage.

    Opinion Insight 4th July 2023

    Onward report: Local benefits increase rural support for renewable energy projects

    Chart shows four stacked bars. The vertical axis shows percentage of respondents who selected each response. The horizontal axis shows four bars: "Public, or overall responses", "Conservative" voters, "Labour" voters, and "Lib Dem" voters. It shows for each category, what percentage would support or oppose renewable energy projects depending on whether the projects financially contribute to their local area.

    A new report from the think tank Onward Power to the People argues that proposals for local renewable energy projects are much more likely to receive support if they provide community benefits to the local area.

    Of the rural voters surveyed for the report, 43% of rural voters would already support local renewable energy projects without any community benefit. But an additional 37% would support development if they came with community benefits.

    Opinion Insight 4th May 2023

    YouGov tracker: Public consistently in favour of government subsidies for solar development

    This YouGov tracker shows that support for government spending to develop solar power is consistently high (around 70-80%), and opposition is low (between 8-11%).

    It shows a line graph mapping responses to the question "should the government pay energy companies to help develop solar power". On the vertical axis is the percentage of support, and on the horizontal axis is time (from August 2019 to May 2023. There are three lines in the graph. The pink line represents "The government is right to spend money encouraging this form of energy", and sits consistently between 70-80% over the time period. The purple line "the government is wrong to spend money encouraging this form of energy" sits consistently between 0-15%. Don
    From the Climate Community 20th April 2023

    More in Common: Britain’s ‘quiet majority’ want less talk and more action on green energy

    The image of Britain “split down the middle” on issues of local renewable development projects is not, according to research by More in Common, an accurate depiction of public opinion.

    In focus groups with communities in two regions where green energy developments have been presented as contentious and controversial in local media, they report that:

    “Most Brits are balancers, tired of the loudest voices dominating debates, and eager for us just to get on with it quietly, less talk, less fuss and more action.”

    While renewable energy projects are often positioned as controversial, and do attract some loud minority opposition, these conversations suggested people were often not aware of planned developments, and were typically broadly supportive when offered the chance to reflect on them.

    • Source: More in Common
    • Author: Conleth Burns
    • Date: 20th April 2023
    Opinion Insight 3rd November 2022

    Ipsos MORI polling: Britons want subsidies on environmentally friendly tech (but few want higher taxes on non-renewable energy sources)

    In a poll of 34 countries, Britons are the most supportive of government subsidies for renewables, with 65% in favour. However, higher taxes on gas and oil were nowhere near as popular, likely reflecting ongoing concerns about the cost of living, and an illustration of the nuanced views that the public holds on phasing out oil and gas.

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