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Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has today published Greater and greener development (attached), which is new polling analysis of UK public attitudes towards the importance of and potential policies for greater and greener housing and infrastructure development in the UK.

The polling provides strong policy ideas for — and a strong case to — the Government for improving the development levels of UK housing and infrastructure in a way that is consistent with reducing net zero emissions and protecting the environment.

The policies examined derived from the two major Bright Blue research papers that have been completed over the last year: Greater and greener homes: more homes, ready for net zero and Resilient neighbourhoods, powered by low-carbon energy.

The key findings from the polling include:

  • Half (50%) of the UK public said the climate risk they are most concerned about is extreme weather events, such as storms, for their own home and neighbourhood.
  • An overwhelming majority of the UK public (75%) support more green housing – such as housing with exceptionally low carbon emissions and high energy and water efficiency – being developed in their local area.
  • A majority (55%) of the public say they support new housing development in their local area if it meets high environmental standards.
  • A majority of the UK public (52%) claim that they are more likely to support a new development in their local area if it is particularly climate resilient.
  • A large majority of the UK public (65%) support new onshore wind power development, either unconditionally of its location or only in certain areas.
  • A plurality of the UK public (41%) think it should be easier to acquire planning permission to build onshore wind farms.
  • A majority of the UK public (68%) support the development of new solar farms, either unconditionally of its location or only in certain areas.
  • A plurality of the UK public (44%) believe that it should be easier to acquire planning permission to build solar farms.
  • When given a choice between different development priorities for English offshore waters, 53% of the UK public believe that offshore wind farms should be a priority, and 41% believe that floating solar farms should be a priority. By contrast, only 23% think that oil and gas platforms should be a priority.

 

Policies for greater and greener development

  • A majority of the UK public (59%) believe that local planning authorities should be rewarded by central government in exchange for proactive planning for more renewable energy infrastructure developments, such as onshore wind and solar power.
  • A large majority of the UK public (72%) think that it is important for community benefits to be offered to the local community when a new onshore wind turbine is proposed nearby.
  • A large majority of the UK public (71%) think that it is important for community benefits to be offered to the local community when a new solar power farm is proposed nearby.
  • The overwhelming preference among the UK public for community benefits is for money off energy bills, chosen by 46% of the UK public.
  • A majority of the UK public (66%) have said that the support of the local community should be needed to develop a new wind turbine.
  • A majority of the UK public (65%) support mandating that a greater proportion of new and existing buildings have solar panels fitted to them.

 

 Ryan Shorthouse, Executive Chair of Bright Blue, commented: 

The UK public want to achieve two key objectives in housing and infrastructure policy: the socioeconomic, such as more and affordable homes for young people and more secure and affordable energy, and the environmental, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving biodiversity.

“It is evident that the UK public supports both greater and greener development. Interestingly, older people are the most enthusiastic about new renewable energy development such as onshore wind and solar. This is a clear message to central, combined and local governments up and down this country: get building.”

 

Alexander Stafford MP, Member of the Energy Security and Net Zero Committee, commented: 

“This polling uncovers a resounding public endorsement for this country to produce development that is both greater and greener. More, greener energy infrastructure and housing both enjoy widespread support across all levels of society. As this country remains committed to sustainable progress, the Government must look to bring both economic and environmental aims forward in unison. This analysis suggests some ways to do just that.”

 

Sam Hall, Director of the Conservative Environment Network, commented:

“To lower energy bills and housing costs while also addressing climate change, we have to build much more low-carbon energy infrastructure and housing. It is welcome to see that there is significant public support for building more clean energy infrastructure, despite politicians often hearing from an opposed, vocal minority. With the research finding that voters are more likely to support new wind farms and solar farms in their area in return for money off their bills, the government should introduce a mandatory minimum level of community benefit for residents next to new clean energy infrastructure projects.”

 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

To arrange an interview with a Bright Blue spokesperson or for further media enquiries, please contact Emily Taylor at emily@brightblue.org.uk or on 07841 419316.

  • Bright Blue is the independent think tank and pressure group for liberal conservatism.
  • This report is kindly sponsored by the European Climate Foundation. Bright Blue has had complete editorial control over the report. The report does not necessarily reflect the views of our sponsor.
  • The polling was conducted by Survation between the 8th and 14th of February 2024. It consisted of a nationally representative sample of 2,243 UK adults. 
  • Bright Blue’s Board includes Diane Banks, Philip Clarke, Alexandra Jezeph, Richard Mabey and Ryan Shorthouse.
  • Our advisory council can be found here. We also have 228 parliamentary supporters. Members of our advisory council and our parliamentary supporters do not necessarily endorse all our policy recommendations, including those included in this press release.
  • Comments from the Conservative Environment Network do not necessarily mean Parliamentarians from their caucus endorse or support the views or policies put forward by this report.