Government accused of ignoring own research on energy policy.
The majority of people in Britain would prefer to live near a wind farm than a fracking site, new YouGov research commissioned by Ecotricity revealed today.
When given the choice, 62% said they would rather have a wind farm in their local council area than a fracking site, with just 19% preferring to have fracking nearby¹.
The research comes as Ecotricity founder Dale Vince today accused the Government of contradicting its own research on public attitudes to onshore wind.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been conducting its own Public Attitudes Tracking Survey since July 2012 – with the latest results showing that 64% support onshore wind, with only 28% of people supporting fracking in the UK.
But while both polls reflect a continued public preference for onshore wind over fracking, the Government is reportedly preparing pre-election promises to the contrary, with generous tax breaks and planning short cuts for fracking – while potentially bringing the development of onshore wind energy to an end.
Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: “You have to ask why the Government is ignoring the results of its own surveys on both wind energy and fracking – they are actively going against public opinion on both issues. If Cameron and the Conservatives believe that wind energy is worth opposing because it is unpopular, who do they think it is unpopular with? The Government’s own polling clearly shows that they can’t be thinking about the general population.
“What level of approval does wind power need in order to shape the Prime Minister’s energy policy? Wind currently has a higher approval rating than Cameron has himself. The Prime Minister would kill for the level of public approval wind energy has currently, but unfortunately Britain has a very undemocratic approach to energy policy at the moment: wind power will be under attack from Eric Pickles for another 12 months leading up to the election, which will allow the Government to ignore planning experts and public opinion in its ongoing attack on onshore wind.”
Reports suggest that the Government is to offer greater commitment to solar and offshore wind at the expense of onshore wind, while the attack on onshore wind continued last week as the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, announced an extension to a special planning policy enabling him to call-in and make personal decisions on renewable energy projects for another 12 months.
Dale continued: “Sacrificing onshore wind for offshore wind and solar makes no economic sense, especially in these times of austerity and cuts. Onshore wind is the cheapest form of renewable energy available to us; large solar projects cost bill payers 50% more per unit of energy made, while offshore wind costs 100% more than onshore.
“We need all three forms of renewables for our long term energy security, and keeping onshore wind in the mix keeps the overall cost of green energy down. It’s illogical to pay more for green energy than you need to – and this from a government that only recently blamed the cost of supporting green energy for the rising price of our nation’s energy bills.
“Government policy on this issue makes no sense, whether you measure it by public opinion, financial cost or the energy security. It only makes sense if you see it as political manoeuvring, or perhaps an attempt to minimise the electoral threat posed by UKIP. But we need an energy policy driven by facts not politics, working in the long-term interest of our country – and that would have to incorporate onshore wind.”
Highlights from Ecotricity research
· Wind power preferred over fracking 62% said they would rather have a wind farm in their local council area than a fracking site, with just 19% preferring to have fracking nearby. 19% did not know.
· Wind more popular than fracking amongst supporters of all four parties
Conservatives: 50% chose wind, 33% chose fracking, 17% did not know
Labour: 76% chose wind, 9% chose fracking, 14% did not know
Lib Dem: 78% chose wind, 14% chose fracking, 8% did not know
UKIP: 41% chose wind, 36% chose fracking, 24% did not know
· Fracking is more popular with the older generation
Of those that favour fracking over wind, 29% are over 60, while only 12% are 18-24
· Fracking less popular with women than men
9% of women would prefer a fracking site compared to 68% preferring wind
29% of men would prefer a fracking site compared to 56% preferring wind
Ecotricity was founded in 1995 as the world’s first green energy company and now powers over 100,000 homes and businesses from a growing fleet of wind and sun parks. Ecotricity is a ‘not-for-dividend’ enterprise that, on average, invests more per customer in building new sources of green electricity than all other energy companies in Britain put together.
Ecotricity is the only energy company that has pledged to be shale gas ‘frack-free’, now and forever. Ecotricity will never invest in or buy shale gas from fracking to supply to customers.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,061 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th – 9th April 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).