Voters for both Conservative leadership candidates are almost as supportive of renewables and energy efficiency as the rest of Britain, a new survey indicates.
Results from a poll conducted for independent academics the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit and “representative of” Conservative Party members, show Tory activists’ support for green power almost as high as the 85% across all Brits, as reported in the government’s most recent Public Attitudes Tracker.
Pollsters YouGov surveyed 829 adults ‘representative of’ Conservative members for the ECIU over four days this month, as the former chancellor and current foreign secretary emerged as front-runners to be Britain’s fourth Tory premier in six years.
More wind generation, backed by 71% of Conservative members, and solar, endorsed by 73%, receive strong backing in the poll.
Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch, the candidates backed by Conservatives most opposed to green energy measures, were eliminated in MPs’ early rounds of voting.
Eighty-five per cent of Conservative activists back incentives for homeowners and landlords wishing to improve insulation and energy use, the ECIU’s poll found. The same figure supports tougher insulation standards being imposed on builders of new homes.
Improved standards for home building were dropped in 2015, leading to over one million new homes being built to lower standards, therefore using more gas and paying higher bills.
New homes, with laxer insulation standards
The replacement Future Homes Standard was pushed back from 2023 to 2025, meaning around a further 600,000 new homes will now be built to lower standards over two future years.
Two Tory-led governments since 2014 have suffered ignominy over their failed schemes for mass retrofits of Britain’s housing stock, notorious as among Europe’s leakiest.
Earlier this week, a Conservative-majority committee shadowing D-BEIS declared in their energy pricing report that “the absence of a home insulation programme is an unacceptable gap in policy that must be urgently rectified”.
The government’s ECO scheme will save fuel poor homes more than £600 on their energy bills in the coming year, according to the ECIU.
The group’s poll looks to cast doubt on the popularity of a pledge by Truss, the bookmakers’ favourite, to scrap at least temporarily green levies on energy bills, which fund measures including the Renewables Obligation and the Feed in Tariff.
Commenting on the ECIU poll, Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, chair of the Net Zero Support Group said: “The gas crisis is the reason energy bills are going up and it will be adding an extra £2,000 come October.
“It’s just common sense that we have to get off gas and firstly that means wasting less which in turn means properly insulating our homes. There are lots of leaky homes still out there and effective schemes like the Energy Company Obligation to help fix them up. The insulation industry is ready to step up. Politicians need to do their bit now.
Conservative newspapers’ energy fictions
Enthusiasm for solar generation of electricity stands at 73% overall among Tory members, the new poll finds. Sunak advocates, 82% of them eager to see more modules on roofs and fields, are keener than Truss fans.
Backed by fictions in blue-tinged newspapers, Conservative critics of solar farms such as junior care minister Helen Whately have courted headlines over alleged “industrialised rural landscapes”.
But trade body SolarEnergyUK claims that if all the nation’s current pipeline of farm-based solar secured planning permission, projects would still cover no more than 0.4% of Britain’s farmland and 0.24% of its total surface, less than the nation’s golf courses.
Ground mounted PV developments supplement farmers’ incomes, providing wild flower reserves and sheltered grazing.
For the lobbyists, chief executive Chris Hewett observed; “The survey results reinforce evidence that the public are in favour of solar farms, contrary to what we hear from some members of parliament and from other organisations”
“New solar power is cheap, subsidy-free, quick to install and expanding rapidly. It’s helping to cut reliance on eye-wateringly expensive gas, lower bills and bolster the UK’s energy security too,” the SolarEnergyUK boss added.