‘Quiet majority’ back wind turbines

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Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has said the Government has a “clear mandate” to invest heavily in both on- and offshore wind power as new research reveals a “quiet majority” of the British public are in favour of more turbines.

The Liberal Democrat Cabinet Minister gave an impassioned speech in favour of green energy yesterday, stating “the future is inconceivable without wind power” and that offshore wind is now an industry “of national strategic importance”.

In his first keynote speech on offshore wind since taking control of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in the wake of Chris Huhne’s resignation, Mr Davey made clear his personal commitment to the green economy, which he said “is in my personal and political DNA”.

Mr Davey told the Global Offshore Wind conference in London that investing in renewable energy would help rebalance the economy, with many of the employment and economic gains likely to be felt outside of the South East.

And he revealed new research by his department proves public opinion is firmly behind wind power – despite the negative Press that onshore turbines have received in some quarters.

“The truth is most people support renewable energy – even if it’s large-scale and even if its built near them,” he said. “There is a quiet majority out there.

“According to forthcoming DECC research, eight out of 10 people support renewable energy; only one in 20 oppose it.

“Fifty six per cent of people would be happy to have a large-scale renewable energy development in their area. Only 18 per cent would oppose it.

“You don’t read these figures in some of our newspapers, but we need to get this message out.”

Mr Davey said the evidence would help address the perception that people dislike turbines.

“Onshore wind, which occupies so many column inches, is supported by a clear majority – 65 per cent,” he said. “Three quarters of us support offshore wind, and just six per cent oppose it.

“The message is clear. People support renewable energy.

“They think we should invest more in clean energy technology, and although opposition is growing in some quarters, the evidence shows the majority of people support the expansion of wind power both on- and offshore.

“So I think we have a pretty clear mandate here.”

Yorkshire is well placed to benefit from the coming boom in offshore wind, with several vast wind farms being planned off its coastline in the North Sea.

This week a new report found the industry could sustain 100,000 new jobs by the end of the decade – most of them at port sites nearby such as those long the Humber.

Mr Davey made clear he believes the economic benefits will be felt right across the UK.

“In the last financial year alone, the industry invested £8.7bn, created 7,800 jobs in places like Huddersfield and Hull,” he said.

“With a Government whose economic policy is about more balanced growth, much of this investment and many of these jobs will be based outside the South East.”