Poll reveals MPs’ misconceptions over onshore wind

Survey shows Parliamentarians overestimate opposition to onshore wind power

By Peter Chalkley


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As the Government moves to further expand offshore wind expecting the sector to reduce household bills, and MPs head off for summer recess, polling released today (25 July) shows that MPs are unaware of both the low cost and popularity of onshore wind power in Britain.

The survey, commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit from YouGov, shows that just 8% of Members of Parliament know that onshore wind farms are now the cheapest way to add electricity generating capacity in the UK. For comparison, 12% believe that large nuclear power stations, like Hinkley Point C, provide the cheapest new capacity.

The poll also shows that MPs consistently overestimate opposition to onshore wind. The most recent Government survey shows that just 2% of the population strongly opposes the technology – but only 9% of MPs think that the figure is less than 5%. Over half of MPs (52%) believe the level of strong opposition to be above 20%.

The MPs’ survey comes as a separate poll of the British public, by YouGov for RenewableUK, revealed that a majority of voters support lifting the Government’s de facto ban on new onshore wind projects.

Commenting, Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: “It’s somewhat alarming to find that MPs don’t know the facts on onshore wind, particularly how popular it is with the public – seventy-five percent backing in the Government’s most recent survey, and rising.

“With just 2% of Britons expressing strong opposition, the myth that onshore wind is unpopular or divisive should now be put to bed once and for all.

“It’s a damaging myth, because investing in onshore wind is likely to reduce energy bills – so this is really something that MPs and anyone else who professes to care about energy bills should be getting their heads around.”

RenewableUK’s public survey found that 66% would support a change in policy so that onshore wind farms can be built in areas where they have local backing. Separately, a report by the National Infrastructure Commission also found last week that the Government could boost green energy in Britain by investing in wind and solar power, without increasing bills.

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “People are telling us something really important - namely, that new onshore wind should no longer be ruled out of our energy mix for political reasons.

“With appropriate planning and democratic safeguards, the Government’s blanket ban can be revised and allow this cheap, clean and popular technology to move forward as it should.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 100 MPs. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17/04/18 and 01/05/18. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the House of Commons. Full results are available on request, or can be found here.