Nearly two-thirds of all Britons – or 64% – support the development of new greening improvements to Britain’s electricity grids, designed to speed decarbonisation of the nation’s economy, polling released today by industry lobbyists RenewableUK claims.
Adults who voted Tory in the last 2019 general election are even more enthusiastic to back decarbonising upgrades and grid reinforcements. 71% of recent Conservative voters favour greening improvements, against 6% who oppose them, the same poll finds.
In a survey of 1,039 voters run on 14 July by pollsters Survation for Renewable UK, 55% of self-declaring Conservatives agreed that lack of grid connections is Britain’s biggest obstacle to greener electricity. That’s higher than the 51% aggregate agreement shown by voters of all parties.
RenewableUK’s figures come amid signs that Conservative leaders, still lagging in the wider polls, plan to use Fleet Street titles to mobilise antipathy against greening measures and Net Zero, in their long campaign before the next general election, which is possibly as distant as January 2025.
Since fewer than 500 voters last month ensured a Conservative remains MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, ministers including premier Rishi Sunak have been inching away from Net Zero commitments. The retreat includes Sunak’s intention announced last week of licencing more than 100 new oil & gas extractions this year alone in the North Sea.
Former National Grid chief Nick Winser urged ministers on Friday to be bold in actions to halve from as much as 14 years the wait times faced by green developers in securing a grid connection. Britain’s 230 GW pipeline of wind U& solar farms now in development but without connection offers dwarfs 80GW of existing generation capacity, Winser calculates.
Of today’s poll findings, Barnaby Wharton, RenewableUK’s director of future electricity systems, commented:
“Contrary to 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.
“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 Nick Winser, the government’s networks commissioner.
“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”.
61% of all respondents to RenewableUK’s poll agreed that 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. Again, Tories voiced proportionally stronger support, with 65% approving a benefit offering.
SolarEnergyUK, for Britain’s PV farm developers, today echoed near-unanimous industry support for Winser’s pleas to energy secretary Grant Shapps.
Gemma Grimes, the trade association’s policy director, singled out among Winser’s eighteen recommendations to ministers his urging that design principles should be disclosed and followed by transmission operators, ensuring a more transparent process for enacting improvements, including how they are assessed by the Planning Inspectorate.
“We greatly support the recommendations, “ the SolarEnergy UK spokesperson added.
“We agree that they are needed to reduce the delivery time for strategic transmission. Any longer than seven years risks jeopardising the attainment of Net Zero. The changes must be taken forward as a package to be most effective.”