More than two voters in three support development of onshore wind generating turbines – according to the latest public attitude opinion survey compiled by the UK Department of Energy (DECC).
In the latest wave of DECC’s Public Attitudes Tracker, 70% of people said they support the development of onshore wind – the highest ever figure since DECC’s regular opinion polls began in March 2012.
A record-breaking number also support offshore wind, at a new high of 77%. Wave and tidal energy also remains popular at 77%, matching its previous highest levels of support.
Public support for shale gas stands at 29% Significantly, most people are undecided about shale gas – and those in favour out-number those against (see chart below).
Level of support for the extraction of shale gas to generate the UK’s heat and electricity, December 2013 and March 20142
In addition, people strongly recognise the benefits of renewable energy and believe that the UK should accelerate investment in low-carbon technologies. 70% think renewables bring economic benefits to the UK, compared to 47% for nuclear. 80% are concerned about the UK becoming dependent on energy imports and 75% of people think we are not investing fast enough in alternative energy sources.
Other key survey findings show:
Consistent strong support for renewable energy
In March 2014, four fifths of the public (80%) said they supported the use of renewable energy to provide the UK’s electricity, fuel and heat, unchanged over the past two years (82% in March 2013 and 79% in March 2012).
Six in ten people (59%) said in March 2014 they would be happy to have a large scale renewable energy development in their area, consistent with 56% in March 2013 and 55% in March 2012.
Nuclear energy: level of support broadly constant
Support for using nuclear energy to generate the UK’s electricity is broadly constant but there have been some significant changes. 42% of UK adults supported nuclear energy in March 2014, a significant increase compared with September 2012 (38%)1, when the question was first asked in its current form. Opposition fell significantly over the same period, from 27% in September 2012 to 20% in March 2014). A third of people (34%) took a neutral stance in both March 2014 and September 2012.
Shale gas: awareness levels rising
Three quarters of the public (75%) were to some degree aware of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas (fracking) in March 2014, a significant increase since March 2013 (52%) and June 2012 (42%), when the question was first asked.
In March 2014, three in ten people (29%) supported the extraction of shale gas to generate the UK’s heat and electricity, compared to 27% when the question was first asked in December 2013.
There was a significant decrease in the proportion of people who took a neutral stance on the issue, down from 48% in December 2013 to 44% in March 2014. A fifth were opposed to shale gas extraction in March 2014 (22%) and December 2013 (21%).
Climate change and energy security
Energy security and climate change are now ranked joint fourth in a list of the biggest challenge facing the UK today, up from eighth and ninth places respectively in March 2012. In March 2014 8% of households said security of energy supply and climate change were the biggest challenges facing the UK, significantly higher than 3% (energy security) and 2% (climate change) in March 2012.
Concern about the future cost of energy remains high when the question is asked directly. In March 2014, more than eight in ten (85%) households were very or fairly concerned about steep rises in energy prices in the future, consistent with March 2013 (88%) and July 2012 (84%).
Energy bills and switching
The proportion of people very or fairly concerned about paying their energy bills was significantly lower in March 2014 (49%) than in March 2013 (59%) and March 2012 (56%). This is likely to be partly attributable to the milder winter in 2013-14, however concern about all areas of expenditure surveyed has fallen since March 2013.
38% of people said they will or may switch energy supplier in the next 12 months, compared with 35% in March 2013 and 33% in March 2012.
In March 2014 a third of people (32%) had heard of collective switching, up from 27% in March 2013 and 21% in March 2012. Four in ten (40%) expressed an interest in joining a collective switching scheme in March 2014, compared to 42% in March 2013 and 34% in March 2012.
Fieldwork research note
These results are based on 2,040 face-to-face in-home interviews conducted with a representative sample of UK adults aged 16+. Fieldwork was conducted between 26 and 30 March 2014 on the TNS UK Omnibus, which uses a random location quota sampling method.
The questionnaire was designed by DECC and TNS BMRB drawing on a number of questions from previous surveys. Questions were refined through cognitive testing.
The representativeness of the data was controlled through sample design, fieldwork quotas and post-fieldwork weighting. Data were weighted for the following characteristics: sex, age, social grade, region and tenure. Results included above are based on weighted data.
For more information: