Fracking and small scale nuclear struggle as onshore wind finds favour with the public

  • 65% of the public would be happy to live within 5 miles of a wind farm

  • In contrast, 62% of the public would be unhappy to live within 5 miles of a small modular nuclear reactor

  • 61% of the public would be unhappy to live within 5 miles of a fracking site

  • 69% of the public would be happy to live within 5 miles of community wind turbines

New polling by YouGov for climate charity 10:10 published today in The Guardian reveals in fresh detail the UK public’s attitude to electricity generation technologies like wind, nuclear and fracking.

The poll shows clear happiness with the prospect of living close to onshore wind developments. 65% of the public would be happy to live within 5 miles of a wind farm and 69% would be happy to live within 5 miles of single wind turbines. Significantly, when asked about living near a community owned wind farm - rather than a commercial development - overall unhappiness fell to 17% from 24%.

Notably, the polling found support across the political divide, with a majority of 2017 Tory (57%) and Labour (76%) voters saying they would be happy to live within 5 miles of an onshore wind farm. Equally all the regions of mainland UK surveyed returned favourable results for onshore wind developments. These figures come despite a number of policies implemented by the government to prevent the growth of onshore wind due to claimed widespread opposition to the renewable technology.

The results contrasted sharply with the results for small modular nuclear reactors and fracking. 62% of the public would be unhappy to live within 5 miles of a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR). Equally, despite a slew of high profile government policies designed to make fracking sites more palatable to affected communities, 61% of the public would be unhappy to live within 5 miles of a fracking site.


This trend was again mirrored across the political divide with 55% of 2017 Tory and 69% of Labour voters saying they would be unhappy to live within 5 miles of an SMR. Similarly with fracking 55% of 2017 Tory voters and 71% of Labour voters would be unhappy to live close to a fracking site.

This new data complements ongoing research from the UK government into public attitudes to energy, which have continually shown strong support for renewables and falling support for fracking. It also challenges the story pushed by some politicians and commentators, who insist wind is not popular. Polling by 10:10 and ComRes in October 2016 showed that although 73% of the British public back onshore wind, only 11% think that it is that popular, illustrating a clear difference between perception and reality.

Commenting on the findings, Ellie Roberts campaigner at 10:10 Climate Action said:

The government’s own survey data has long shown that when asked, most British people say they would be happy to host wind farms in their neighbourhoods. But the government has so far neglected to ask this question about their favoured new energy sources, fracking and small modular nuclear reactors. Our new survey helps to plug this gap in our understanding of public attitudes - and shows that the reverse is true for these technologies.

Yet the government has banned new wind power in England supposedly because people don't want it, while forcing fracking on communities that have explicitly rejected it - and pouring hundreds of millions into small modular nuclear reactors that nobody wants to be within 5 miles of. It's very difficult to understand the logic to this when the government also admits that onshore wind energy should already be cheaper than gas or nuclear power in the UK. It is high time for the government to think again about its de facto ban on our cheapest source of new electricity, onshore wind.

ENDS

data from the YouGov poll is available for download:

https://www.dropbox.com/home/Polling?preview=Polling+public+attitudes+to+energy+tech.xls

For further information and requests for interviews: Daniel Jones, press and profile officer, daniel.jones@1010uk.org  0207 388 6688.

Notes to editors:

  • 10:10 brings communities together to take practical action on climate change http://1010uk.org/.

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,660 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th - 13th September 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).