Analysis of British press coverage spanning five years shows articles are largely negative about wind power – despite almost three-quarters of the British public (73%) saying they back onshore wind farms.
The poll, released by climate charity 10:10, showed a slightly lower support in rural areas (65%) compared to urban (75%), with just 17% opposed to the technology and 10% not sure.
It illustrated a strong difference between perception and reality, with just one in 10 thinking windfarms were supported by more than 70% of people. Similarly, one in five (21%) think 71% or more people in the UK support solar farms – with the true figure being 83%.
In an attempt to fix the perception gap, 10:10 has launched a pro-onshore wind campaign, Blown Away, which will involve a range of activities to invite people to show their support for the technology.
The project will start with a petition calling on the government to ensure that fossil fuels are not given more financial support than onshore wind.
“The UK public love wind power and they don’t even realise,” said Max Wakefield, lead campaigner at 10:10.
“Back in 2014, before David Cameron put opposition to onshore wind in the Conservative manifesto, he told the House of Commons Liaison Committee that people were ‘fed up’ with wind farms.
“It’s plainly not true that onshore wind is unpopular with the UK public. It’s time our politicians caught up.”
Co-operative Energy research earlier this year showed that more than two-thirds (67%) of the 2,000+ UK adults polled would support local community-owned renewable energy projects such as wind turbines.
Nearly 80% thought the government should do more ‘to help local communities generate their own energy, with profits staying in the area’.
Related: Over two thirds of UK public backs community energy
Mr Wakefield added: “Onshore wind is already the cheapest tool we have to achieve energy independence, keep bills under control and tackle climate change. And, unlike government pet projects like fracking, it’s really popular.”
Another research paper, conducted by Imperial College London and released by 10:10, found two and a half times as many overall negative media pieces on onshore wind as positive ones.
When examining arguments made within the articles, for every four problems raised about onshore wind, there was one argument stressing the benefits.
Articles about fracking were more balanced and tended to stress the positives, with two out of five arguments raising problems with fracking.
- Read our coverage of the 2016 Community Energy Fortnight at coop/CEF2016.
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