Subsidies for onshore wind power were cut by the UK government in 2015. Then the main reasons given were that it was too expensive and that the public didn’t support it. Amber Rudd MP, then head of what was the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said in a statement to parliament: “We are reaching the limits of what is affordable and what the public is prepared to accept.” Fast-forward to 2019: onshore wind is the UK’s cheapest form of electricity, and our newly-published academic research shows that public support for renewables is high and getting steadily higher. Support for nuclear and fracking on the other hand is low and decreasing. These trends are demonstrated by the government’s own data: the UK Energy and Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT). The PAT has been running quarterly since 2012, meaning there is a huge amount of data to show how attitudes have changed over the past seven years. In total, more than 50,000 people have been surveyed, making it the largest and most representative dataset of its kind. Along with colleagues at the University of Leeds, I analysed the PAT dataset to dig a bit deeper into what it can tell us. As well as looking at how trends in public support have changed over time, we also explored whether trends varied geographically. While the map below shows there is some variation, the overall trends are pretty consistent across Great Britain. (Unfortunately there isn’t enough data for Northern Ireland to ensure confidentiality).
The Conversation 5th July 2019 read more »