Government is making planning policy to placate a minority that is far more likely to hold climate sceptic views, analysis of official data suggests.

Briefing document on findings:

Planning policy on onshore wind is being made to satisfy a small minority, a new analysis of government survey data suggests. Moreover, this minority is far more likely to hold climate sceptic views than the general public.

In 2015, following their manifesto pledge to “halt the spread of onshore wind farms”, the Conservative government issued new planning guidance aimed at restricting onshore wind developments. This move was justified in the manifesto by the claim that onshore wind “often fails to gain public support”. The planning conditions which now face new wind energy developments in England amount to an effective ban on the technology, and have led to a 94% drop in the number of planning applications for wind turbines since they were introduced.

Yet it has long been known through the government’s own data that only a small minority of people strongly oppose onshore wind - just 3.5% over five years of official government surveys. A new analysis of this survey data for 10:10 Climate Action shows that members of this group are 2.5 times more likely to believe that climate change doesn’t exist or is a mainly natural phenomenon compared to the general population.

This new analysis also showed that this group opposing onshore wind is far more likely to be from an older generation. A person over 65 being seven times more likely to strongly oppose onshore wind than a person under 45.

Overall, onshore wind enjoys huge public support, with the latest government data showing a record 76% of the population backing the technology. According to today’s data the general public are 15 times more likely to strongly support than strongly oppose onshore wind.

Leo Murray, director of strategy at 10:10 Climate Action, said:

Onshore wind is a cheap, effective, and highly popular solution to the defining challenge of the 21st century - human-made climate change. Yet wind turbines are now banned in England, in order to please an elderly, ill-informed minority who don’t believe the problem exists. The UK has world-leading climate change legislation, and the government has just made clear that they expect to put the UK on the path towards net zero carbon emissions. So why are they writing planning policy that makes this goal harder and more expensive to achieve?

Only this month the government made clear they intend us to travel the road towards net zero carbon emissions. But that road can only be lined with evidence based policy making. That means a planning system that doesn’t arbitrarily ban our cheapest form of energy, onshore wind.


For further information and requests for interviews: Daniel Jones, press and profile officer, [email protected]  0207 388 6688.

Notes to editors:

  • 10:10 Climate Action is a UK based charity that brings people together to take positive, practical action on climate change. We engage citizens and communities in finding solutions that benefit the climate as well as improving people’s lives today.

  • Five years of Decc/Beis Energy and Climate Change Public Opinion Tracker data was analysed for 10:10 Climate Action by Charlie Young and analysts at the New Economics Foundation