A new UK poll has shown that 73% of the British public support onshore wind power, and 80% support solar farms, but ironically it seems that while they support renewable energy, no one believes anyone else does.
According to the UK climate change charity 10:10 which commissioned the polling from London-based market research consultancy ComRes, there is significant support for both wind and solar among the British public, but the perception of support is significantly down.
For example, while 73% of the British public support onshore wind power — spread equally between 73% of men and 73% of women — only 11% of the public believe there is significant support for it. When asked whether 71% or more of people in the UK support onshore wind, only 11% of respondents replied in the affirmative.
The same can be said for solar: 80% of the British public support solar farms, but only 11% think that there is significant public support for it.
Writing on The Guardian, Alice Bell, head of communications at 10:10, explained that, in seeking to understand the difference between public support and perception of public support, 10:10 commissioned further research on how the press cover onshore wind and fracking. Headed up by Sandra Bernick from Imperial College, the research looked at newspaper articles between 1 January, 2011, and 16 September, 2016, concerning wind power and fracking.
The results are interesting: There were 5,398 news articles on wind and 7,393 on fracking, while only 250 comment pieces and editorials on wind, and 279 on fracking. Unfortunately, over half the comment pieces about onshore wind were negative — 52% negative, 31% neutral, and only 17% positive. Further, the wind pieces were intended to highlight wind in a negative light, focusing heavily on the risks of wind power. Meanwhile, fracking editorials were more balanced, with much more emphasis on the positives.
“What to make of all this?” asked Bell.
“We seem worryingly out of touch with each other when it comes to onshore wind. And it looks like a minority of people who don’t like wind are finding a disproportionate amount of space to air those views in newspapers. I’m also worried that the pro-wind views that do get through tend to rely on economics and environmental arguments. Robust, sure, and certainly part of the debate, but maybe we need to inject some emotion as well as a sense of culture and aesthetics. It’s not like these arguments can’t be made: lots of people feel a sense of hope and delight when they see a wind turbine on the horizon — that feeling should be expressed and shared. And wind power is an established part of our culture — we started it after all.”
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