Age predicts opposition to onshore wind

Who disapproves of onshore wind? The DECC survey of UK public attitudes that I referred to in the previous post allows us to drill down into the personal characteristics of all those who oppose wind turbines on land. (Thank you to the statisticians for making this possible).  Analysis shows that perhaps the most important predictor of someone’s attitude to wind power is their age: opposition to wind barely registers among the under 45s but then rises sharply. By contrast, whether someone lives in a rural area or a city has little impact. The regular survey of attitudes to energy issues interviewed over 2,000 randomly-selected people in March. Of these, 248 either ‘strongly opposed’ or ‘opposed’ wind turbines on land, about 12% of those involved in the survey. A couple of commenters on this web site couldn’t believe these numbers and suggested that those surveyed were unrepresentative of the UK population. This prompted me to look a little more deeply into the other responses of the interviewees opposed to wind.

First, are those unhappy with wind more likely to be anthropogenic climate change sceptics? Yes, 16% of all those surveyed thought that climate change didn’t exist, or was mainly naturally caused. Among those opposed to wind, the number was over twice as high at about 34%. But this can be put another way; only 24% of those who think that climate change isn’t manmade oppose onshore wind.

Social class has little impact. 11% of ABC1s are opposed to wind turbines on land against 13% of C2DEs. The highest percentage of opponents are among As (23%, but numbers are too small to be relied on) and Es (15%)

Whether someone lives in a large town or city (about three quarters of those in the survey) or in a more rural area (one quarter) is not a particularly good predictor of opposition. 11% of urbanites are anti-wind compared to 15% in the country. The simple view that rural dwellers are against wind turns out not to be really true.

Age does matter. Less than 5% of those under 44 are against onshore wind turbines compared to 25% of those aged over 65. Five-fold differences in a social survey like this are very unusual.

Age groups and onshore wind 8th may 2014

Does anybody know why this is??


While doing this little bit of work, I noticed a surprising anachronism in the data. The percentage of people confident in the existence of man-made climate change has tended to fall. Only 35% of respondents say that climate change is mainly or entirely caused by human activity, down from 38% two years ago. (But almost half believe that climate change is caused ‘partly by natural processes and partly by human activity’ and this percentage has risen).

But despite the growing uncertainty about the anthropogenic source of global warming, far more people now rate climate change as one of the top three problems facing Britain. 22% in the latest wave of research compared to only 10% just two years ago. This is a very striking increase - floods and gales have had an effect.

Those opposed to onshore wind were almost as likely to see climate change as a top 3 challenge as the average respondent. 17% of the anti-wind group were in this camp compared to 22% of all those interviewed. Another surprise?