Mainstream Conservatives are “open to the idea” claim thinktank

The majority of Conservative voters would back the development of more onshore wind, despite previous manifesto pledges to scale it back, a thinktank has claimed.

In a report published today, the bright blue group claimed in a poll 53 per cent of Tory voters said renewable energy generation was one of their top three environmental priorities.

And despite a party manifesto pledge in 2015 to “halt the spread of subsidised onshore windfarms”, 59 per cent said they would back more onshore wind, provided certain conditions were met.

Report author Sam Hall said “there’s quite a lot of support of support for renewable energy among Conservatives”.

“It is interesting in the context of the government’s manifesto commitment to halt the spread of subsidised onshore wind,” said Hall.

“I think at the time, there was a very loud and vociferous campaign from local Conservatives to try and stop onshore wind, but what our polling shows is that mainstream Conservative voters are actually open to the idea of further onshore wind, providing certain caveats are met around subsidies and the local veto.

“As the government considers its energy cost review and how to decarbonise at the lowest cost for the consumer to protect businesses and households, I think onshore wind, provided its zero subsidy, should be back on the table.”

“The industry needs to approach the stage of being able to develop projects without any subsidy,” added Hall.

“Most of them say to me they are near or at that position now. We need to be careful how we define subsidy. I think most energy projects in the UK require some form of long-term contract to guarantee certain returns for investors. I think the metric of subsidy should be across the lifetime costs of a particular project, and how that relates to other different energy sources.”

The survey also found Conservative voters favour solar energy the most, giving it an average rating of 7.7 out of 10, while tidal energy and offshore wind came second and third, with 7.6 and 7.2 respectively.

Onshore wind received an average score of 6.2, which was just ahead of nuclear with 6.1.

The least popular form of energy proved to be coal with an average rating of 4.3.

“There have been a handful of prominent and loud climate sceptics, who have been linked to the Conservative Party and our report shows they are not representative of most mainstream Conservative voters. Most of them do support policies to protect the environment and to mitigate climate change,” added Hall.