Visual impact and community benefit are less important than noise and local jobs when people are considering whether to support or oppose an onshore wind farm in their local area, according to a poll released today (Thursday 24 May).
When asked which ‘benefits’ would be most likely to affect their support for an onshore wind farm in their area, ‘creating jobs during construction’ was the first choice of one in three (33 per cent) with ‘payment of compensation to individual households’ the first choice of just over one in five (20 per cent).
Noise was the number one ‘issue’ likely to affect whether one in four people (28 per cent) would support a wind farm. By contrast, visual impact was the top concern for less than one in ten people (9.2 per cent).
These are among the findings of a survey of 1,000 people across the UK and Republic of Ireland commissioned by Edinburgh based Pagoda Public Relations. The results were announced at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen today (Thursday 24 May).
The poll offered respondents a series of local and national ‘benefits’ and ‘issues’ that would potentially affect their support for an onshore wind farm in their local area. They were asked to rank them in order of importance.
Ian Coldwell, Managing Director of Pagoda Public Relations, said, “The survey shows that, overall, local factors trump national ones in influencing how people react to projects in their locality, although issues such as energy security do feature in people’s thinking.
“Projects that create local jobs are more likely to be popular with communities – whereas developers who stress how their project may help meet government targets on renewables are least likely to secure buy-in.
“Visual impact is not as crucial to people as you might expect given its prominence in the public debate – what people do want reassurance on is noise and wildlife.
“These factors vary in importance with social group and age, so developers really need to get to know local communities rather than making assumptions about what might secure their support.”
After noise, the top ‘issue’ was ‘impact on wildlife’ (21 per cent) followed by ‘fall in property prices’ (15 per cent) and the ‘cost of subsidies for onshore wind farms’ (12.5 per cent). This was followed by ‘visual impact’ (9.2 per cent) and the ‘unreliability of energy supply from wind turbines’ (8.7 per cent).
Energy security was ranked as the ‘benefit’ of first choice by 20 per cent, more than climate change (at 15%) and ‘providing funds for local community projects’ was the first choice of only 6.6 per cent.
The poll, which was carried out by Your Say Pays on 8 May, also asked whether people would be willing to pay more each month for their electricity to ensure it primarily came from renewable sources. Most people said they would pay no more, with Scots being the least likely to pay more (two out of three not willing to pay more). Less than ten per cent across the UK and Republic of Ireland were willing to pay over £6 per month more.
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Notes to editors
Your Say Pays asked the following questions on May 8, 2012. Numbers in brackets refer to percentage of respondents who cited this factor as the most significant benefit/issue.
1. Which of the following potential benefits would be most likely to affect your support an onshore wind farm in your local area? Please rank 1,2,3 etc in order of priority
• Creating local jobs during construction (33 per cent)
• Helping achieve Government targets for renewable energy (4.9 per cent)
• Providing funds for local community projects (6.6 per cent)
• Helping meet the country’s future energy needs (20 per cent)
• Payment of compensation to individual households (20.3 per cent)
• Helping to tackle climate change (15.2 per cent)
2. Which of following potential issues would be most likely to affect your support for an onshore wind farm in your local area? Please rank 1,2,3 etc in order of priority
• Noise (28.5 per cent)
• Impact on wildlife (20.6 per cent)
• Unreliability of energy supply from wind turbines (8.7 per cent)
• Extra traffic during construction (4.3 per cent)
• Visual impact (9.2 per cent)
• Impact on tourism (1.6 per cent)
• Fall in property prices (14.6 per cent)
• Cost of public subsidises for onshore wind farms (12.5 per cent)
3. Considering your current electricity bills, by how much, if at all, would you be willing to increase the amount that you pay per month in order to ensure that your electricity comes primarily from renewables?
• £0 (56.5 per cent)
• Up to £2 (15.5 per cent)
• Up to £4 (11.6 per cent)
• Up to £6 (6.6 per cent)
• Up to £8 (2.4 per cent)
• Up to £10 (5.4 per cent)
• More than £10 (two per cent)