Misconceptions over onshore wind rife among MPs

wind turbines
Parliamentarians wildly overestimate opposition to onshore wind power, according to a new survey. BRENDAN MONTAGUE reports

It’s somewhat alarming to find that MPs don’t know the facts on onshore wind.

Members of Parliament are unaware of both the low cost and popularity of onshore wind power in Britain - even as the Government moves to further expand offshore wind expecting the sector to reduce household bills , according to the latest polling.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, shows that just eight percent of MPs know that onshore wind farms are now the cheapest way to add electricity generating capacity in the UK.

Alarmingly, 12 percent believe that large nuclear power stations, like Hinkley Point C, provide the cheapest new capacity.

Particularly popular

The poll also shows that MPs consistently overestimate opposition to onshore wind. The most recent Government survey shows that just two percent of the population strongly opposes the technology – but only nine percent of MPs think that the figure is less than five percent.

More than half of MPs - 52 percent - believe the level of strong opposition to be above one in five.

The MPs’ survey comes as a separate poll of the British public, by YouGov for RenewableUK, revealed that a majority of voters support lifting the Government’s de facto ban on new onshore wind projects.

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: “It’s somewhat alarming to find that MPs don’t know the facts on onshore wind, particularly how popular it is with the public – seventy-five percent backing in the Government’s most recent survey, and rising.

“With just two percent of Britons expressing strong opposition, the myth that onshore wind is unpopular or divisive should now be put to bed once and for all.

Democratic safeguards

“It’s a damaging myth, because investing in onshore wind is likely to reduce energy bills – so this is really something that MPs and anyone else who professes to care about energy bills should be getting their heads around.”

RenewableUK’s public survey found that 66 percent would support a change in policy so that onshore wind farms can be built in areas where they have local backing.

Separately, a report by the National Infrastructure Commission also found last week that the Government could boost green energy in Britain by investing in wind and solar power, without increasing bills.

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “People are telling us something really important - namely, that new onshore wind should no longer be ruled out of our energy mix for political reasons.

“With appropriate planning and democratic safeguards, the Government’s blanket ban can be revised and allow this cheap, clean and popular technology to move forward as it should.”

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Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

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