New poll shows Tories’ attitudes on onshore wind to be out of touch with public opinion

Conservative MPs’ hostility towards onshore wind farms is at odds with public opinion, with almost four out of five of Tory MPs (78 per cent) being opposed to onshore wind – despite the fact that 84 per cent of the population believe investment in renewables is important to increase our energy security, and 62 per cent saying they would be happy to have an onshore wind development in their area.

A poll of MPs from the three major political parties has found that 78 per cent of Conservative MPs would oppose onshore wind-farm developments in their constituencies. However, separate public polls also conducted by ComRes on behalf of REG Windpower have found that 62 per cent of all Britons – and 55 per cent of those living in rural areas – would be happy to have an onshore wind development in their local area. Only 32 per cent of rural dwelling Britons said they would oppose local onshore wind developments.

The findings follow a Conservative announcement earlier in the year that the Party would end subsidies for onshore wind if returned to government in the May 2015 General Election. The Conservative Party has also indicated that it will include a pledge to make planning regulations for onshore wind more onerous in its election manifesto, while Communities Secretary Eric Pickles MP has delayed and rejected numerous onshore wind developments during the last 12 months.

More than four in five of all MPs surveyed (84 per cent) agreed that investment in UK renewable energy is important to increase independence from oil and gas. However, whereas only 12 per cent of Conservative MPs said they would be happy to have an onshore wind development in their area, 74 per cent of Labour MPs and 64 per cent of Liberal Democrat MPs said they would support a local development in their community.

REG Windpower has warned that continued Conservative opposition to onshore wind is limiting opportunities to provide clean and cheap energy to consumers.

Andrew Whalley, Chief Executive, REG Windpower, said:

“We’ve been told time and again by Conservatives that they recognise the financial and environmental arguments in favour of onshore wind, but that they can’t support it because their constituents don’t want it in their local areas. This research debunks that argument. Local communities not only understand the benefits in terms of energy security and stability of investing on renewables, but are largely accepting of onshore wind projects in their communities.

The barrier to progress is the irrational and ideological hostility of many Conservative MPs, which is out of touch with public opinion.

“Conservative opposition to onshore wind, which is most evident in Eric Pickles’ abuse of the planning system to delay and prevent developments, is now undermining projects and investment in what is an established sector. Onshore wind has the potential to help reduce energy costs and our reliance on oil and gas. This potential might not be realised if the Conservatives don’t get on the same page as their constituents.”