Most Britons support expanding electricity grid infrastructure to accommodate new renewables and decarbonise energy supplies, a poll has found.
Carried out by Survation on behalf of RenewableUK, the poll found that nearly two-thirds of people (64 per cent) support the development of new infrastructure, while only 5 per cent oppose it. Support was found to be even higher among those who voted Conservative in the last general election, with 71 per cent in favour and 6 per cent opposed.
Last week Nick Winser, the former boss of the National Grid, warned that if the UK did not improve its electricity transmission system it risks being unable to take full advantage of new wind and nuclear power facilities.
This was something that was reflected in the poll, with 51 per cent of people agreeing that the lack of new grid infrastructure was the biggest barrier to making the most of new renewable energy sources.
The polling also showed that 61 per cent of people would be more in favour of having an electricity powerline installed within five miles of their home if their local community was offered money for improvements.
While there is no evidence that exposure to magnetic fields from powerlines, substations, transformers or other electrical sources causes any health effects, they can increase the risk of fires and cause minor noise pollution in the immediate area.
Barnaby Wharton, RenewableUK’s director of future electricity systems, said: “This polling shows that, contrary to some widespread misconceptions, most people are actually in favour of building vital new grid infrastructure to connect up clean energy projects and enable them to deliver cheap power to British homes and businesses, increasing our energy security.
“It’s interesting for government to note that Conservative voters support this even more than the general public.
“Not only is there a strong foundation of support for new grid development, but the government can build on that support by taking forward the recommendations in the report just released by Winser, the government’s electricity networks commissioner.
“One of the clear messages from the polling is that people want to feel the benefits of hosting new grid near their homes, with funding for local community projects high on their list of priorities, alongside clear explanations of why it’s needed and how they can influence what’s built in their area.”
The poll found that being able to influence what is installed is also important to most people. Around 62 per cent said clear guidance from grid developers about the various ways in which the grid infrastructure could be changed – for example, if cables could be built underground – would make them more favourable towards it.