British Public Supports Renewable Energy, says Survey

Only 3 percent of people in Britain are opposed to building onshore windfarms, according to two national polls commissioned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

LONDON, England, UK, 2001-12-28 [SolarAccess.com] A total of 2,100 adults were interviewed in late September and early October by the research firm BMRB2, as part of RSPB’s climate change campaign. The aim was to identify public views on energy issues and to qualify the perception of links between fossil fuels and climate change. The results have been released just before the British Cabinet Office Performance & Innovation Unit produces its final energy review for the country. Nuclear reactors were the least popular means of generating electricity, with 68 percent saying they did not think reactors should be built in Britain in the next decade. A high number of respondents also wanted fewer fossil fuel plants in future, with 38 percent saying that coal-fired plants should not be built in the next ten years. Among respondents who were aware of different technologies, the most popular generating facility was an offshore windfarm at 69%, with onshore windfarms at 68%. Wave or tidal stations were favoured by 56% of respondents, solar by 54%, hydroelectric by 46%, 33% for incineration and 32% for biomass, natural gas by 21%, nuclear by 9%, 7% for coal and 6% for oil. Almost everyone said they knew about climate change and 74 percent said they were concerned about its effects. Almost three-quarters of the public associate fossil fuel power station with increased risk of climate change. Only 55 percent had heard the term ‘renewable energy’, but there was high approval for solar, wave, tidal and hydro-electric power, with only 3 percent of interviewees opposed to building onshore windfarms in Britain. Power stations harnessing some form of renewable energy were far more popular than those using fossil fuels or nuclear energy. “The government is facing some important and long term challenges as to how we meet our future energy needs,” says John Lanchbery of RSPB. “The RSPB is firmly behind renewable energy, which is environmentally friendly and socially sustainable. This polling shows that the British public is behind us on this.” Last July, Prime Minister Tony Blair directed the Performance & Innovation Unit to produce a review of long-term energy policy for the United Kingdom. The final draft will be submitted by the end of this month. Nuclear reactors were the most known type of electricity facility, with biomass the least. Power stations which generate electricity by burning a renewable resource were less popular than those which harness a renewable resource in other ways. Eighty-two percent did not want a nuclear reactor built within three miles of their home. “Although some people apparently had not heard of particular power station types before the survey, they gave definite views about them in answer to later questions,” says the report. “Although only 13 percent of the public claimed to have heard of biomass power stations before, 27 percent said that they did not want such stations built within three miles of their home. In fact, the majority of these ‘biomass rejecters’ were people who hadn’t heard of biomass power stations before the survey.” “People are most likely to think that burning fossil fuels and waste significantly increases the risk of climate change,” concludes the report. “By contrast, very few people think that generating electricity from wind, solar, hydro-electric wave or tidal sources significantly increases the risk of climate change.” “Biomass power plants are considered by large proportions of the population to be implicated in climate change,” it explains. “There also appears to be a widespread misconception that generating electricity from nuclear power contributes significantly to climate change.”
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