Onshore wind poll: local jobs is most valued benefit, visual impact is main concern of less than 1 in 10

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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%) with ‘payment of compensation to individual households’ the first choice of just over one in five (20%).
When asked what ‘issues’ may influence their support for a local onshore wind project, noise is the number one factor for more than one in four people (28%). By contrast, visual impact was the top consideration for less than one in ten people (9.2%).
These are among the findings of a survey of 1,000 people across the UK and Republic of Ireland commissioned by Pagoda Public Relations and carried out by Your Say Pays on 8 May. The results were announced at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen today (Thursday 24 May).
The survey 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%) followed by ‘fall in property prices’ (15%) and the ‘cost of subsidies for onshore wind farms’ (12.5%). This was followed by ‘visual impact’ (9.2%) and the ‘unreliability of energy supply from wind turbines’ (8.7%).
Energy security was ranked as the benefit of first choice by 20%, more than climate change (at 15%) and ‘providing funds for local community projects’ was the first choice of only 6.6%.
The poll 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 (66% not willing to pay more). Less than 10% across the UK and Republic of Ireland were willing to pay over £6 per month more.
For further information please contact:
Giselle.dye@pagodapr.com on 0131 556 0770
esther.black@pagodapr.com on 07584 474 232.
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%)     
  • Helping achieve Government targets for renewable energy (4.9%)
  • Providing funds for local community projects (6.6%)
  • Helping meet the country’s future energy needs (20%)
  • Payment of compensation to individual households (20.3%)
  • Helping to tackle climate change (15.2%)
  1. 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%)
  • Impact on wildlife (20.6%)
  • Unreliability of energy supply from wind turbines (8.7%)
  • Extra traffic during construction (4.3%)
  • Visual impact (9.2%)
  • Impact on tourism (1.6%)
  • Fall in property prices (14.6%)
  • Cost of public subsidises for onshore wind farms (12.5%)
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%)
  • Up to £2 (15.5%)
  • Up to £4 (11.6%)
  • Up to £6 (6.6%)
  • Up to £8 (2.4%)
  • Up to £10 (5.4%)
  • More than £10 (2.0%)