The Irish Wind Energy Association has welcomed the results of an Interactions opinion poll, published today (6 January), which found that 79 per cent of Irish people back wind energy.
Confirming the popularity of Ireland’s main source of renewable energy the poll found similar levels of support for wind energy from the national sample and one composed entirely of people living in rural Ireland. Opposition to wind energy remains extremely low at only 4 per cent.
Dr David Connolly, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association: “It’s no wonder that wind energy is so popular when it cuts our CO2 emissions, cuts our electricity prices and creates jobs and investment across the country.
“Initial estimates are that wind energy provided just under a third of the country’s electricity last year, which is the highest level on record, and we look forward to growing that as new wind farms – onshore and offshore – are developed in the coming decade.
- 79 per cent in favour of wind energy (52 per cent strongly in favour);
- 79 per cent of rural residents back wind energy (48 per cent strongly in favour);
- Only four per cent of respondents oppose wind energy (2 per cent strongly oppose);
- Just over half – 55 per cent – of respondents would support a wind farm being developed in their area;
- A majority of those polled – 55 per cent – said climate change would greatly or somewhat influence how they vote in the next election;
- Top five reasons for supporting wind energy identified as ‘Helps environment’, ‘Readily available energy’, ‘Renewable energy’, ‘Addressing climate change’ and ‘Cost efficiencies’.
Government policy contradiction
The industry body went on to highlight the contradiction between the high levels of support for wind energy and Government proposals that would undermine its future growth.
Dr Connolly continued: “At the very moment we need to be developing wind energy at record levels the Government, through restrictive new planning guidelines, is undermining efforts to achieve its own targets for renewable electricity.
“The draft wind energy planning guidelines published before Christmas by Minister Eoghan Murphy and Minister Richard Bruton would make it more difficult and more expensive to develop renewable energy and to cut Ireland’s CO2 emissions.
“In particular, the proposed new noise levels, potentially the harshest in Europe, will cost every person in Ireland an extra €550 in order to hit our 2030 climate action targets.
“It is hard to understand how proposals like this could be brought forward during a ‘climate emergency’. Today’s poll findings confirm that using wind energy to produce electricity is incredibly popular. More and more people appreciate the benefits of a cheap, indigenous source of carbon-free electricity and want to see Ireland leading in the fight against climate change.”
Support for local wind farms
The opinion poll also found majority support from respondents for developing local wind farms. When asked if they would support a wind farm being developed in their local area 55 per cent of people confirmed that they would and 51 per cent of those polled living in rural Ireland.
Among those backing a local wind farm the top three reasons were that it would be ‘Good for the environment’, that there was ‘No reason to be against’ and ‘Social responsibility’.
Dr Connolly said: “Under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme to be rolled out later this year communities will see even more advantages from local wind farms including substantial increases in community benefit funding and the opportunity to invest in their local wind farm.”
Climate change an election issue
The opinion poll also confirmed that climate change is likely to be a significant issue for voters in the next General Election. More than half of those asked said it would influence how they voted in the election later this year with a quarter saying it would greatly influence who they voted for.
Dr Connolly said: “Climate change will be the single greatest challenge for our society and the biggest issue for policymakers in the next few years.
“It is clear that candidates and parties putting forward policies designed to tackle climate change, including supporting renewable energy like wind power, will be rewarded for it on election day.”