There has been much furore about Donald Trump’s appearance in front of the Scottish Government’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee last week. His outlandish comments about the Scottish Tourism Energy and his claims to expertise have been seized upon by anti-turbine groups. However, his bold claims do not appear to bear up to scrutiny.
A poll conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the trade body Scottish Renewables has revealed that the publicity generated by Mr Trump has served to increase support for wind power within Scotland. The participants in the poll were asked fiver separate questions. The survey, carried out between the 12th and 17th of April this year showed that 77 per cent of the people polled felt that their views on wind power were unchanged by the media storm surrounding Mr Trump. Indeed a further 16 per cent indicated that they had become more supportive of wind power as a result of the outspoken Mr Trump’s comments. Only 4 per cent of those polled indicated that they had listened to Mr Trump and become less supportive of wind power as a result.
When asked how much weight they felt the Scottish Government should place on Mr Trump’s views on wind power 59 per cent of those polled responded with the answer ‘none’. An additional 26 per cent answered ‘not a lot’.
59 per cent strongly disagreed (37 per cent) or tended to disagree (22 per cent) with statements made by Mr Trump describing wind turbines as ‘ugly monstrosities’ and ‘horrendous machines’. 71 per cent strongly agreed (39 per cent) or tended to agree (33 per cent) with the following statement; “I support the continuing development of wind power as a part of a mix of renewables and conventional forms of electricity generation”. The last question examined support for the Scottish Government’s 2020 100% renewable energy targets finding that 77 per cent either strongly agreed (42 per cent) or tended to agree (35 per cent) with these targets.
Niall Ferguson, chief executive of Scottish Renewables welcomed the findings of the poll:
“This poll suggests that Donald Trump’s comments on the development of wind power in Scotland have actually made some people more positive about wind power than they were before.
More than three quarters of respondents indicated their views on wind power were unchanged.
“The results also suggest that most people do not think the Scottish Government should place a huge amount of weight on Mr Trump’s views when making decisions on Scotland’s future energy policy.
“A clear majority of respondents support wind power and support our renewable energy targets.
“We think that the poll sends a clear signal to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee during their inquiry. A significant majority of people polled support the continued growth of wind power and other renewables, which together met 35 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs in 2011.
“It’s not just the general public who support the growth of renewables as part of our energy mix – leading figures in our business and environmental sectors, as well as educational and civic groups, have all thrown their weight behind this industry.
“They see the mounting evidence that renewables are growing employment, improving training and further education opportunities, encouraging investment and helping us reach important targets to reduce our carbon emissions and tackle climate change.”
Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland also welcomed the polls findings:
“The people of Scotland have not been fooled by Mr Trump’s sudden interest in the Scottish coastline, he was quite happy to trash an important bit of it to build his golf course in the first place. [The golf course has been constructed on an area of coastline previously designated as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest.] Mr Trump’s showbiz bluster shouldn’t be allowed to distract us from getting on with using the huge energy resources of wind, waves and tides that Scotland has been blessed with.”
The results of this YouGov poll indicate that support for wind power in Scotland remains strong, if it is not indeed continuing to grow.