Renewable Energy – Public Opinions

During 2019 a public opinion poll was taken at events around the Scottish Solway Firth such as; World Oceans Day  and Dumfries and Galloway Environment Fair, in addition to online polls, to gather public opinions around types of renewable energy generation.

Discussions with the public revolved around sources of renewable energy, positives / negatives, and interactions with other Solway sectors.

The results, below, show a broad range of opinions of different forms of renewable energies, with views most often being positive towards tidal, wave and carbon capture. Solar power split opinion both in direct and indirect engagement. Wind energy had vastly differing responses when looking at direct versus indirect results. The online engagement polling method accounts for some of this discrepancy as the poll was shared in social media groups who have concerns over the introduction of wind turbines and generally oppose those locally proposed developments. Despite the increased votes these engaged groups submitted, it is clear that wind energy is a divisive topic within coastal communities. The seascape/landscape and visual impacts are one of many issues that are raised in relation to proposed wind farm developments.

Coastal communities in Dumfries and Galloway have previously voiced concerns over the visual impacts of turbines on the landscape/seascape of the Solway region as well as the socio-economic impacts. Questions about the direct financial benefit Dumfries and Galloway would receive from proposed offshore wind sites are another question raised for proposals. Robin Rigg Wind Farm, although located in Scottish waters, has operations based in Workington on the English side of the Firth. Options for development sites in the region were not progressed with in 2011 as a result of stakeholder concerns. A draft plan option (DOP) was proposed in the Solway Firth, just beyond the Luce Bay and Sands Special Area of Conservation, during consultation for Scotland’s Draft Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in 2019/2020, and were once again met with these, and other, concerns.

The consultation analysis report of responses for the Draft Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy can be viewed here. The SW1 draft plan option (DPO) was being proposed in the Solway Firth, this DPO received significantly more responses than other DPOs (400 responses about the SW1 DPO compared to between 97 and 102 for other DPOs). The responses were also overwhelmingly in opposition to the SW1 DPO. When prompted with the question; ‘Do you supportive selection of the following draft plan Options?’ compared to the other DPOs receiving ‘strongly support’ or ‘somewhat support’ responses from between 33 -41% of respondents, the SW1 DPO only received support from 10% of respondents, with 321/400 responses strongly opposing the SW1 DPO. A petition garnering 250 signature was submitted to answer this question alone in relation to the SW1 DPO, ‘strongly opposing’ the site.