YouGov has recently polled support for onshore wind power among the UK public at 66%.
They asked the question of whether the government should lift a current ban on supporting onshore wind power in favour of offshore farms or fossil fuels, with just 15% of respondents arguing that the current laws should be retained. The findings show criticism of current government policy as outdated, inefficient, and environmentally unsound – as well as being financially insecure.
A new report from a number of energy companies and government contractors estimated that in the six years from 2019, over £1.6 billion could be saved by consumers on energy bills if a significant number of new onshore wind farms were to be built. The report, sponsored by Scottish Power, Innogy (Npower’s parent company), and other major firms, found that by 2023, onshore wind power production costs are projected to fall well below government predictions for electricity prices, and thus operate at a profit at the same time as reducing costs for consumers.
Onshore wind power would not just be useful for the energy sector, but would also provide a useful homegrown sector for industrial and commercial investment, with the construction and management of the facilities entrusted to local companies. The aforementioned report estimated that up to 18,000 construction jobs and 8,500 long-term management and maintenance jobs would be created if the proposed projects went ahead.
Vitally, there is also strong local support for onshore wind farms in potential construction areas, negating the concern that it is only desirable if built elsewhere. The poll also found that wind farms were the most favoured investment target for infrastructure projects, leading easily ahead of railway lines, housing developments, dual carriageways, fracking sites or nuclear power stations. It is estimated that up to 86% of capacity would be sourced from Scotland, either by extending existing facilities, or building new farms. 12% would be situated in Wales, with only 2% in England, and that would only come from small-scale or private facilities, rather than any large farms.
YouGov also compared demographics that took part in the study, finding that Conservative voters polled at 61%, not far off the average, demonstrating widespread discontent with the Tory government’s policy on wind power, even among its own voters.
Emma Pinchbeck, RenewableUK’s executive director, said: “The government policy is massively out of step with public opinion, including the views of Conservative voters. Whether it’s the over-65s, people in rural communities or younger voters who want action on climate change, abandoning the onshore wind ban is popular across the board.”
She continued: “Onshore wind is the UK’s cheapest new power source, bar none, and excluding it from the market means we’ll have to rely on more expensive technologies to meet our future power needs. It’s difficult for voters to square why the government is bringing in laws to cap energy bills on the one hand, while choosing to further push up costs for billpayers by blocking cheap, new wind power on the other.”