Renewables opposition hits all-time low at BEIS tracker

  • Recent public attitudes tracker show that opposition to renewables has hit an all-time low of 2%
  • This comes in the run-up to what has been deemed by a number of political parties as the ‘climate election’
  • Other key findings include support for biomass hitting a record of 70%

The latest public attitudes tracker published by BEIS has found that opposition to renewables has hit an all-time low.

This comes just over a month before what has been deemed by opposition parties as the ‘climate change election’.

Amy MacConnachie, Head of External Affairs at the REA, commented on the findings:

“I’m not at all surprised that opposition to renewables has hit an all-time low of 2%.

“Over the past few months we’ve seen how the climate change movement has mobilised an extraordinary amount of support cutting through geographical, ideological and social economic barriers.

“Now more than ever, parties need to take heed of what the public are telling them and put climate change at the front and centre of their campaigns.

“I am also delighted to see that support for biomass has reached an all-time high of 70%. As evidenced by our Bioenergy Strategy and the Committee on Climate Change, we cannot and will not reach Net Zero without bioenergy.

“With the election just over a month away, we hope that all political parties take note of this tracker and reflect the views of industry, independent bodies and the public in their manifesto.”

Key findings for the September 2019 wave of the tracker:

Renewable energy
• Support for renewable energy increased slightly from 82% in June 2019 to 84% in
September 2019.
• Opposition to renewable energy reached a low of 2% in September 2019.
• Most of the public continued to support each of the renewable energy sources included
in the tracker in September 2019: solar (85%); on-shore wind (78%); off-shore wind
(81%); wave and tidal (80%); and biomass (70%), which reached its highest point since
the tracker began.

Shale Gas
• In September 2019, awareness of fracking remained stable at 78%. Levels of
awareness of fracking have fluctuated between 70% and 80% since December 2013.
• The proportion of people opposed to fracking reached a high of 44% in September
2019, this has gradually increased from 21% over the course of the tracker. Support for
fracking reached a low of 11%, from its base level of 27% in December 2013. The
proportion that neither support nor oppose fracking decreased from 47% in June 2019
to 43% in September 2019.
• The most common reason for opposing fracking was the loss and destruction of natural
environment (57%), followed by the risk of earthquakes (48%) which is at its highest
point across the tracker.

Radioactive waste

  •  In September 2019, one in ten people (10%) said they knew a lot or a fair amount about how the UK manages radioactive waste. This was the lowest level of awareness since the question was first asked in July 2013 (19%).
  • Awareness of the UK’s plans to dispose of radioactive waste in Geological Disposal
    Facilities (GDF) also fell to its lowest level in September 2019 with 18% saying they
    knew a lot or a little about these plans.

Small Modular Reactors
• In September 2019, 18% of people had heard of small modular reactors. This was a
slight increase from 16% when this question was first asked in September 2018.

• Less than half (45%) of respondents said they had some awareness of
decommissioning offshore oil and gas infrastructure, with 28% saying they knew a lot, a
fair amount or a little. These results are similar to September 2018.

Clean Growth
• In September 2019, eight in ten people (79%) had not heard of the concept of “clean
growth”, similar to June 2019 (78%).
• Double glazing and loft or top-up insulation are the most commonly installed insulation
measures (74% and 62%, respectively). The proportion of respondents saying they had
underfloor insulation increased from 9% in June 2012 to 17% in September 2019.

Energy Performance Certificates
• Six in ten people (58%) were aware of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) in
September 2019. Levels of awareness have shown little change since the question was
first asked in September 2015.
• In September 2019, 6% of people said they knew their exact EPC rating, the same level
observed in September 2018.
• The proportion of people who said they had seen the section on the EPC which
recommended how they could improve the energy of their home remained at the same
level as September 2018 (17%).
• Of those who spotted the energy efficiency recommendations on their EPC, 12% said
they had made changes to their home directly because of the guidance included in their
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This equates to 2% of all people.
• Around half (48%) of those who made changes due to the guidance in their EPC said
the EPC gave them all the information they needed to go ahead with changes.

Energy Standards for Rental Properties
• A quarter (25%) of people said they were aware of minimum energy standards for rental
properties, a similar level to that observed in September 2018 (26%).
Workers’ Rights
• In September 2019, seven in ten people employed or had been employed in the last two
years (71%) said they knew either a lot or a fair amount about their employment rights
at work, the same level as that observed in September 2018.
• Just under two in ten (17%) of those that were employed or had been employed in the
last two years had experienced at least one problem at work in the last two years, a
similar level to that observed in September 2018 (19%).
• The most common problems experienced were taking time off to look after a dependent
child or relative in an emergency (4%) and taking rest breaks at work (4%).

You can view the whole report here.