Public Consultation + Political Engagement

Poll gives strong basis for renewable developer investment

Powering Up Britain set out the government’s vision for the future of energy in the country. Reaffirming its commitment to creating a net zero economy by 2050, the report outlines how this can align to ambitions for energy security by diversifying, decarbonising and domesticating energy production.

Setting four security objectives covering, energy, consumers, climate and economy, the government plans to invest in renewables and nuclear power, supporting industries in their transition away from fossil fuels, and leveraging emerging technologies including carbon capture, usage and storage, floating offshore wind manufacturing, and hydrogen.

Coinciding with the report’s publication, BECG Group commissioned polling on public attitudes towards the government’s net zero ambition and the role that renewable energy sources should play. The polling uncovers bipartisan public support for striving towards net zero, with 69% of people backing the government’s 2050 target. This support extends to strong backing for renewable energy development in the UK and specifically within their own local area: solar 87%, onshore wind 75%, offshore wind 78%, and tidal/hydro 73%. In comparison support for nuclear was at 45% and coal at just 34%.

The support for renewables cuts across political lines, with more than three-quarters of Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat voters supporting solar, onshore wind, and offshore wind farms in their local area.

But public trust in politicians’ ability to deliver is limited. Unsurprisingly trust in the Green Party is the strongest at 53% (the only party trusted by a majority to achieve the 2050 goal), followed by Labour at 49% with the Conservatives trailing behind at 32% and Reform UK just 22%.

Despite limited trust, this broad public support should offer a strong basis for investment from renewables developers to help deliver on government targets and ambition. But huge communications challenges still exist in securing public backing from affected communities for both development in their area and the renewables mix required.

Our polling also identified a link between the level of knowledge about specific renewable technologies and their willingness to support it in their area. Emerging technologies such as hydrogen do not score well, partly due to limited understanding amongst the public. The Powering Up Britain report emphasises the potential of emerging technologies like hydrogen to achieving net zero and positioning the UK as a global leader in green energy. To enable communities to embrace these type of renewable energy projects, businesses and government will need to foster trust and understanding in the technology behind them. And the stakes are high with estimates of £1 trillion opportunity in low carbon products and services by 2030, alongside the host of other benefits, not least the creation of high-skilled jobs.

BECG Group’s polling hints at potential for debunking the NIMBY narrative, at least in principle. And for now, government is making few policy concessions to NIMBYSM in the renewables space, including declining to amend agricultural land classification to protect it from renewables development, which many protest groups have called for. However, even against the backdrop of the host of benefits of renewables schemes, from investment, GVA, job creation, biodiversity net gain as well as Local Energy Discount schemes, there are few large-scale renewable projects across the UK enjoying large scale public support. There appears to be a gap in public support in principle and public support in practice.

Powering Up Britain offers a roadmap that addresses both energy security and climate change while leveraging the economic opportunities of the energy transition. The creation of the new Department for Energy Security & Net Zero seeks to entrench commitment to tackling these challenges together. With a clear and consistent strategic approach, the UK is well-positioned to drive the energy transition and benefit from its early mover status. BECG Group’s insights on broad public support for the net zero target and the role of renewables development in achieving this is testament to a shift in attitudes. But there is still work to be done.

BECG Group is supporting infrastructure projects across the renewables sector. You can download a copy of our report.

Selected industry experts bring you insight and expert advice, across a range of sectors.

Subscribe for free to receive our fortnightly round-up of property tips and expertise

Selected industry experts bring you insight and expert advice, across a range of sectors.

Subscribe for free to receive our fortnightly round-up of property tips and expertise

"*" indicates required fields


Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 13,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox


Join more than 13,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.