Donald could be trumped by public support for wind energy

Anti-wind farm protestors in the UK have been dealt a blow by a series of polls which show strong support for clean energy, continued renewables subsidies, and for a decrease in reliance on burning fossil fuels like gas.

New York tycoon Donald Trump is one of the more prominent wind power critics, as he seeks to develop a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. Today Trump is appearing in front of Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee to claim that turbines will affect the tourism industry and that wind power cannot survive without subsidies.

The flamboyant businessman is up against the results of a YouGov poll for Scottish Renewables which found that 72% of adults in Scotland support wind power. In a survey of over 1,000 people, nearly two in five (39%) said they strongly agreed with the statement, “I support the continuing development of wind power as part of a mix of renewables and conventional forms of electricity generation”, and a further 33% said they tended to agree.

These sentiments were echoed around the UK in the past week, with almost nine in 10 people wanting the government to ramp up the UK’s use of clean domestic energy and reduce the country’s reliance on imported gas according to another YouGov poll, initiated by Friends of the Earth. Only 2% of the 2,884 people questioned backed an increase in gas capacity.

Another poll, this time by Ipsos-Mori for Renewable UK, found that 43% of Britons regard subsidies for wind power as good value for money. Only 18% of those surveyed did not. It also found that 66% were either “strongly in favour of” or “tended to favour” the technology, against just 8% who were opposed. Two-thirds also found turbines’ impact on the landscape acceptable. Asked why they approved of wind power, a majority of respondents said it was because it helps curb greenhouse gas emissions, helps tackle climate change, and contributes to the UK’s energy security.

The UK government is feeling the pressure to live up to its election-time pledge to be the “greenest-government ever”, as only 2% of the public believe it is living up the promise. Another factor is the ambitious target of 100% renewable energy for Scotland by 2020, announced by the Scottish parliament last year. On Thursday 26 April David Cameron is expected to announce “a major policy intervention” regarding his green policies – and he knows the British public is watching.

 By Tom Rowe,