A guide to meeting your MP to talk about about onshore wind

Contact: hannah.bland@1010uk.org 0207 388 6688

MPs are coming together across parties to tell the prime minister it’s time to bring back onshore wind. They know it’s clean, cheap and popular - which means it’s a vital part of tackling climate change. That’s why they’re asking the prime minister to remove the blocks the government has placed on wind turbines - so we can power more of the UK with our wonderful wind.

The best way to get your MP to sign the letter is to meet with them in person. Across the country, other wind fans are doing the same. In this guide, we’ve put together some top tips and key messages to help you set-up, prepare for, and ace your meeting with your MP.   

You can read the letter, and find out whether your MP has signed it yet, here.

Setting up the meeting

To set up the meeting, email or phone your MP’s office and ask for an appointment during one of their surgeries. Most MPs hold weekly surgeries at their constituency office, and you can usually find the dates and times for surgery meetings on their website. You can find your MP’s contact details on their website, or using www.writetothem.com.

If you don’t hear back from their office within a couple of weeks, give them a ring to remind them you’ve asked for an appointment. You can also use social media to get their attention, for example by sending your MP a tweet letting them know that you’re hoping to set up a meeting and look forward to hearing from them soon. Or if you live nearby, pop into the office to follow-up. If you have any problems getting a response from your MP or arranging a meeting, get in touch with us using the contact details at the top of this guide.

It’s a good idea to think about ways you can start building a longer-term relationship with your MP’s office as you set up the meeting. All communications to your MP go via their staff, who organise their diary and research the issues they’re working on. So it’s really useful to get them engaged with what you’re doing too.

Preparing for the meeting

  • It’s useful to ask your MP’s office how long the meeting will be, so you can prepare the right amount of information.

  • Before the meeting, think through what you’d like to say and make some rough notes. Have a look at the key points we’ve listed below, or read a couple of the briefings we’ve linked to at the end of this guide.

  • It’s a good idea to take along copies of the letter you’re asking your MP to sign and our onshore wind briefing, so you can leave these with your MP. This means you don’t need to refer to all the facts during the meeting. You can download and print them using the links at the end of this guide.

  • Are there other people in your constituency who might want to attend the meeting with you? Attending the meeting with another person or a small group of two to five people will make a bigger impression - and it will also help you feel more supported during the conversation. Do you know any local groups who have directly benefited from wind power, or been affected by the blocks - such as community energy groups, businesses using wind to power their operations, or turbine manufacturing companies? If you’d like us to link you up with other local wind fans, or suggest local groups you can reach out to, please get in touch.

  • Could you make the meeting more personal or interesting for your MP? For example, you could ask them to visit a local wind farm with you and some friends, or invite them to a local group meeting.

  • Remember that we’re here to help you prepare. Get in touch using the contact details above if we can offer any support.

The three key points about onshore wind

This bit’s super simple! Onshore wind is cheap and popular - which means it should be a big part of tackling climate change and making sure energy bills are affordable. But the government has been blocking new onshore wind turbines since 2015.

Now for the detail …

Onshore wind is cheap.

  • Onshore wind is the cheapest source of electricity we can build in the UK

  • Onshore wind is much cheaper than other government-backed technologies such as nuclear and gas. Onshore wind farms could be built for as little as £46 per hour of energy produced. Hinkley nuclear plant costs £92.50 per hour of energy, while new gas is estimated to cost £66.

  • The cost of blocking onshore wind, and replacing it with more expensive low-carbon options such as nuclear or biomass, will be £1 billion over five years.

Onshore wind is popular

Onshore wind is being blocked

  • Since 2015, the government has prevented onshore wind from competing for building contracts alongside other energy technologies. Without these contracts, builders can’t guarantee they will get good prices for their energy - which makes it very difficult to get new projects off the ground.  

  • As a result, installations of new onshore wind projects fell by 80% in 2018 - and are expected to fall significantly further this year.

  • In 2015, the government issued new planning rules for onshore wind that have made it all-but impossible to get planning permission for wind turbines in England. The number of planning applications for wind turbines in England has fallen by over 90% since the rules were changed.

These may seem like facts your MP will already know - but they probably don’t. A survey of MPs carried out last year shows only 8% of MPs know onshore wind is our cheapest energy source. What’s more, over half of MPs believe strong opposition to onshore wind is 20 times higher than it actually is. So whether or not your MP agrees to sign the letter, it’s still really useful for you to set them straight on the facts.

Top tips for a successful conversation

We asked 10:10ers what works for them when talking to their MPs. Here’s all the super top tips they came up with.

  • Personalise what you say. MPs talk to lots of people every week, so adding something personal will help get their attention. Why do you care about this issue? What’s your personal experience?

  • Think about why onshore wind will matter to them. What’s your MP’s background? What issues do they care about, or work on? Are they part of any committees? You can find out more about them from their website, or by searching for them on www.theyworkforyou.com.

  • Think about what their misconceptions might be. Be ready to counter criticisms and objections, and think beforehand about what these might be. You can use our wind mythbuster to help you prepare.

  • Be respectful and pitch it right. Keep the conversation calm and respectful, as well as assertive. Try to find something to thank them for at the beginning - this helps to get the conversation off on a good footing. Have clear and concise points ready to back-up what you’re saying - don’t assume your MP already knows about the issue.

  • Be persistent. MPs may not reply to your first email, and may take a while to respond after your meeting. Don’t be discouraged - keep in touch! You can follow up by email or phone after your meeting.

  • Thank your MP. To keep your MP engaged in action on climate change over the long-term, it’s important to build a good relationship with them. So remember to thank them if they do something you’ve asked them to.

Ask your MP to take action

Towards the end of your conversation, remember to explicitly ask them if they will sign the MP letter. It’s a good idea to leave a copy of the letter with them, and to follow-up with them afterwards to remind them. One of the best ways to keep an MP engaged with you is to ask them to take a specific action, as this gives you a reason to keep contacting them.

If they don’t want to sign the letter, ask them why and whether anything would enable them to change their position. Then get in touch with us, and we can work together to find a new way forward.

Let us know how it goes

We’d love to hear how the conversation goes, whether or not your MP signs the letter. Get in touch with Hannah at hannah.bland@1010uk.org or on 0207 388 6688. We can give you some ideas for taking the conversation forward and keeping the pressure up.

Please tell Hannah if your MP agrees to sign the letter, and we’ll add their name.

And remember we’re here to offer support. If you have any questions or would like any advice, get in touch!

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