After the publication of new research into public opinion on renewable energy projects in Wales, Waterfront conference producer Rebecca Ives-Rose shares her interpretation of what this means for the industry.
Recent research by YouGov and Renewable UK Cymru has found that there is strong support in Wales for renewable energy projects, with two thirds (64%) of respondents saying they supported the development of large scale wind projects in their area, and that renewable projects were much preferable over fossil fuels. This is compared to just 22% support for shale gas and 31% support for nuclear projects in the local area.
One key concern for the community when a new, large-scale project is being developed is if it will have a negative impact on tourism. However, the latest findings from the poll showed that, in actual fact, two thirds of people would not be put off visiting an area due to the presence of a wind farm.
Whilst planning for new renewable energy projects can present a whole host of different challenges, this research is positive news for developers as it indicates that the public in general are in support of new projects, potentially helping to remove some of the difficulties associated with these schemes at the crucial, and often drawn-out public consultation stage.
In recent years, Wales has seen a significant surge in renewable energy projects, with new large scale wind farms, solar projects and a proposed tidal lagoon to name just a few of the schemes which have been, or are soon to be, developed. This might suggest that the Welsh public has become, or perhaps has had to become, accustomed to having these projects ‘in their back yard’ and has gradually come to value their long-term benefits, especially in comparison to their less eco-friendly counterparts. Either way, this new research suggests a growing tide of support in Wales for the development of sustainable, environmentally-friendly energy projects, which developers seem to be catching on to, and it will be interesting to see how this develops in the years to come.
The full results of the YouGov survey can be found here.
In October there is a chance to learn more about planning for renewable energy projects at our unique annual event which looks specifically at the current planning process in Wales. While providing case studies and guidance one of the key issues addressed will be public consultation and keeping the community informed regarding your project. Read more about the Planning for Major Infrastructure and Renewable Energy Projects in Wales event here.
PHOTO CAPTION: The proposed Swansea Bay Tidal lagoon project will create an estimated £756 million in capital investment