In 2014 the Prime Minister David Cameron stated that the UK population were “basically fed up” with onshore wind farms whilst explaining his party’s plans to block any new development of this type. The Conservative Party has since stated that it will end all subsidies for onshore wind farms should it win the 2015 UK General Election saying that the amount of capacity already developed or in the planning system was adequate to attain the country’s renewable energy targets in 2020.
However the latest public opinion trackers published by the Department for Energy and Climate (DECC) contradicts Mr. Cameron’s claim that Britain’s public are “fed up” with onshore wind farms with the majority of those quizzed being very much in favour of them. Over 2,000 UK households were surveyed by the DECC and they found that opposition to onshore wind fell from 12% to 10% and support climbed 1% to 68%.
Support for other forms of renewable energy also continues to grow with biomass at 68% compared to 5% opposition and offshore wind at a consistently high 74% support. The most popular form of renewable energy with the UK general public however remains solar with 81% of those questioned supporting it while opposition fell to only 5%.
Gordon Edge director of policy at RenewableUK speaking of these results said there are now major doubts over David Cameron’s claim that there is significant opposition to onshore wind farms from the populace.
“It’s great to see public support for onshore wind is increasing, with more than two-thirds of people consistently saying they want Britain to make use of it, and that support for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy remains even higher,” he said in a statement. “That’s why it’s so hard to understand why the Conservative Party is turning its back on onshore wind, threatening to kill off the industry if it wins the next election. Independent polls show that David Cameron is totally wrong to claim that people are ‘fed up’ with onshore wind – they show the reverse is actually true, and that being anti-wind is a net vote loser.”
As the UK public continues to support wind farms they in return continue to supply clean renewable energy to the UK market in record amounts. The latest National grid figures reveal in January 2015 all time highs for renewable energy generation from wind was achieved for both weekly and half-hourly generation.
The UK wind farm sector produced 4.13TW hours in January 2015 beating the record set in the previous month by 13.6% industry body RenewableUK stated. This means that UK grid connected wind farms generated enough electricity to power 8.7million homes in January.
Also the half-hourly record which has stood since November 2013 was beaten last month when within one half hour period on the 2nd of January wind power supplied 31% of all the electricity exported to the UK grid network.
Speaking of these new records Jennifer Webber, director of external affairs at RenewableUK said “It’s great to see wind making such a positive contribution to Britain’s clean energy needs at a cold time of year when we need it most, and this can only continue with greater capacity coming online – reaching 12 gigawatts is an achievement which the industry and the nation can be proud of, but if we’re to secure a supply of clean energy for the long term future, we need all the mainstream political parties to support the wind industry, onshore and offshore, in the General Election and beyond.”
Finally back to the DECC and in a separate report published this week it was confirmed that UK greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.4% in 2013, chiefly attributed to emission cuts from coal and gas fired power plants.
In 2015 the renewable energy industry in the UK and in particular the onshore wind sector is facing an uncertain future. Policies from the Conservative Party, currently in government, state that they will effectively ban onshore wind farms should they get into power after the next election. Yet the general public in the UK continue to support onshore wind developments.
These developments provide more power with each passing month and do so both cleanly and effectively. This in turn means using less power generated from fossil fuels which leads to greenhouse gas emissions falling. As the technology is used on a wider scale the power generated also becomes cheaper to produce.
When broken down and analysed there is not many negative aspects and certainly no substantial ones to renewable energy and onshore wind. However this is not what our Government would have us believe. With an election looming in May they would do well to focus on what the majority of the population want, to support and encourage renewable energy.