Nearly two-thirds of people support building new grid to boost energy security and decarbonise UK economy
New polling by Survation, commissioned by RenewableUK, shows that nearly two-thirds of people (64%) support the development of new electricity grid infrastructure to enable the decarbonisation of the UK economy and improve Britain’s energy security, while only 5% oppose it. Support is even higher among those who voted Conservative in the last general election, with 71% in favour and 6% opposed.
People see the lack of new grid infrastructure as the biggest barrier to making the most of new renewable energy sources, with 51% citing it as a severe or moderate problem. This rises to 55% among Conservative voters.
The Government’s Electricity Networks Commissioner Nick Winser published a major report on Friday on how to speed up building much-needed new grid infrastructure, including proposals to ensure that communities benefit from this.
In Survation’s polling, 61% of people said a guaranteed community benefit fund provided by a grid developer would make them more in favour of an electricity powerline within five miles of their home. This support increased to 65% among Conservative voters.
Having a voice to influence what is installed is also important to most people. 62% said clear guidance from grid developers about the various ways in which the grid infrastructure could be changed – for example, if the cables could be undergrounded and how the pylons would be designed – would make them more favourable towards it. Even higher proportions of Conservative voters supported all these measures (63% to 71%).
Similar proportions of people (59%-62%) said clarity on how the new powerline would increase energy security, maximise jobs and industrial investment, support decarbonisation and tackle climate change would be important to them.
RenewableUK’s Director of Future Electricity Systems Barnaby Wharton said:
“This polling shows that, contrary to some widespread misconceptions, most people are actually in favour of building vital new grid infrastructure to connect up clean energy projects and enable them to deliver cheap power to British homes and businesses, increasing our energy security. It’s interesting for Government to note that Conservative voters support this even more than the general public.
“Not only is there a strong foundation of support for new grid development, but Government can build on that support by taking forward the recommendations in the report just released by the Government’s Electricity Networks Commissioner Nick Winser. One of the clear messages from the polling is that people want to feel the benefits of hosting new grid near their homes, with funding for local community projects high on their list of priorities, alongside clear explanations of why it’s needed and how they can influence what’s built in their area.
We now have an opportunity to move forward and reach a greater consensus on how to modernise our grid, so that’s fit for purpose in the twenty-first century, while ensuring that we maintain strong public support for these vital upgrades which will benefit everyone”.