The research provides fresh insights into the experiences and views of the people of Scotland towards an issue of growing importance in the nation's future. The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act set targets to reduce Scotland's emissions of all greenhouse gases to net-zero by 2045 at the latest, while ensuring a Just Transition and social engagement. Scottish offshore wind generation is seen to play a vital part in meeting this challenge, and Scotland's offshore wind policy statement details ambitions for as much as 11 GW capacity in Scottish waters by 2030. The broader context for this research is that we know, for example from the Scottish Household Survey, that people in Scotland increasingly see climate change as an immediate and urgent problem, think it is an issue that will have direct impact on Scotland and are prepared to take individual action to change their behaviour in ways that will benefit the environment. With that in mind, we think that the following conclusions can be drawn from the research.
The most significant finding from this study is that majority of people from both samples, national and coastal, approve of offshore wind farms. Furthermore, this approval of offshore wind farms is present throughout the population, regardless of demographic sub-group or locality, and this persists with lived experience of, or proximity to, a windfarm.
Another key finding is that those who approve of offshore wind farms have not changed their minds and have held that view for a period of time. This suggests that, other things being equal, these values are likely to upheld in the future.
When presented with a range of features of offshore wind farms, those who live in coastal areas are most likely to cite local economic boosts as their main benefit. This may be because of the jobs created through the construction, development and maintenance of offshore wind farms and other industries in the supply chain.
Renewable industries are seen by national and coastal respondents alike as more socially and economically valuable than non-renewable energy industries (e.g., oil and gas) noting that non-renewable industries still have high value.
The research indicates that potential impacts on the tourist industry and businesses that rely on tourists located near to offshore wind farms could be minimal given that the vast majority of respondents would not avoid an area simply because of an offshore wind farm. The findings show that only a small minority of respondents would be put off holidaying in a location in Scotland if they could see a wind turbine; and that others would actually be more likely to visit an area with turbines.
These conclusions and the fuller report point to positive public attitudes which are widespread across Scotland. The issue of offshore wind farms is a key strategic policy area within the broader environment and climate change agenda. A range of evidence from survey data illustrates the growing importance the public places on environmental issues and the urgency with which they want to see climate change addressed.
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