Truss’ energy plans backfire as Britons reject ‘dangerous’ policy

Truss scrambles to defend fracking in Lancashire

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New polling has found a majority of Britons have said that they would be proud to vote for a party that boosted renewable energy in the UK. The study, of 2000 adults in the UK, conducted by Opinium for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) showed that 78 percent of voters backed renewable energy, which has come into particular focus as the country is looking to end its reliance on fossil fuel imports, which have soared to astronomical prices. While an accelerated wind and solar energy rollout has become a part of the Government’s strategy, Prime Minister Liz Truss is also looking to increase domestic gas, through increased North Sea drilling and ending the ban on shale gas extraction, or fracking. 

Meanwhile, one of the first acts made by Ms Truss and her Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg was to lift the fracking ban in a bid to “strengthen our energy security” amid Putin’s “weaponisation of energy”.

Critics have argued that restarting fracking in the UK, which was banned in 2019 following panic over minor earthquakes near the sites, would not help the UK’s energy security. 

The new poll added another hurdle to Ms Truss’ ambition to bring back shale gas extraction, only 29 percent of those surveyed said that they would be proud to vote for a party supporting large-scale fracking in the UK, while 48 percent said they would be “embarrassed” by such a policy.

Peter Chalkley, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “The British people are clearly concerned by the risk that a changing climate poses. The memories of 40.3C are fresh and even despite recent rain many parts of the country are still in drought conditions.

“There’s also a strong sense of pride around our renewables industry and making our homes better, warmer and more efficient. The public likely see these as pragmatic, common sense steps to cut bills and protect us from volatile gas prices.”

Meanwhile, 72 percent of Britons supported insulation in homes, which many experts have touted as one of the important critical ways to end the energy crisis, and lower household bills permanently. 

Even for policies less in the public eye such as replacing gas boilers with energy-efficient heat pumps received support from 55 percent of the survey, despite the enormous upfront cost that many have used to criticise the policy. 

A majority of voters also noted that they would be proud of supporting a party that helped farmers plant trees, which comes as farming groups expressed concerns over reports suggesting Ms Truss could scrap a long-awaited agricultural reform, which the Government had promised post-Brexit.

Instead, the Government is considering returning to a type of policy similar to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which was widely criticised for its failures.

British farmers argued that the EU-style policy promoted bad agricultural practices, decreased productivity and kept farmers further away from achieving net-zero goals. Farmers said that getting rid of the CAP was an “explicit promise” made as one of the benefits of Brexit.

The poll found that aside from angering farmers, many of whom had already begun changing how they used their land, Ms Truss’ reported U-turn could hurt her politically.

When asked how they would perceive a political party downgrading climate change policy from being a priority issue, the top responses were “damaging” (38 percent), closely followed by “backwards” (36percent), and “dangerous” (33 percent).

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While fracking could help boost the UK’s energy security, recent research has revealed that most Britons are against having a site near their home, with just 17 percent of UK adults and 29 percent of Conservative voters supporting the development of a fracking site within one mile of their property.

The new report, commissioned by global communications agency Diffusion, revealed Conservative party voters favoured Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans for the UK’s energy security, which involved an accelerated investment in renewable energy like solar, wind and nuclear, which would lower household bills in the years ahead.

When it comes to fracking, they found that the controversial energy extraction process was hugely unpopular among Labour and Lib Dem voters, with just eight percent and 10 percent respectively showing support for a project within one mile of their property.

Among Tory voters, the support rose to 29 percent, which is still significantly low, especially when the polls even offered to slash their bills in half in the hypothetical scenario.

When it came to onshore wind and solar projects however, a majority of voters from all three parties were in favour of renewable energy farms near their property, especially when offered huge discounts on their bills.

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