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CWL-commissioned poll reveals depth of public opposition to taxes on renewables

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The public opposes by a factor of 5 to 1 plans to raid earnings made by the UK’s vital renewable energy sector, while treating more favourably the huge profits made by oil and gas firms as a result of soaring energy costs.

This is the key finding of the first poll giving the people’s verdict on the proposed Electricity Generator Levy (EGL), which came into force on January 1st. Polling firm Censuswide probed the views of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK adults to the controversial green tax plans, as part of a survey commissioned by Community Windpower – a £2bn investor in over 1.5GW of UK wind energy.

The green energy generator has told Ministers it will sue in a bid to block the EGL and has instructed top London law firm Mishcon de Reya and leading barristers David Blundell KC and Yaaser Vanderman of Landmark Chambers to pursue the case.

The key findings of those expressing a view in the poll on energy profits are that:

- Respondents reject by a factor of close to 5 to 1 the suggestion that taxes on extra profits should target green energy only (41% disagreed v 9% agreed)
- There is significant support for green energy, which is backed by a factor of nearly 4 to 1 (49% agreed v 14% disagreed)
- There is strong support for schemes which see energy profits distributed locally to help people struggling with their bills, backed by a factor of close to 5 to 1 (50% agreed v 10% disagreed); Community Windpower has just launched the first such scheme of its kind in East Lothian over this winter.

Censuswide also probed people’s views on the Conservative’s track record on green issues and energy. The key findings of those expressing a view in the poll on the Conservatives’ green credentials are that:

- Respondents expressed concern that the Government was too close to big oil and gas companies, with 45% agreeing versus 17% disagreeing
- More disagreed than agreed with the suggestions that:
o The Government cares about the environment (34% disagreed v 26% agreed)
o They believe ministers when they say they will take action on climate change (41% disagreed v 23% agreed)
o Ministers are doing enough to support renewable energy (41% disagreed v 21% agreed)
o The Conservatives have a good track record on tax policies (41% disagreed v 23% agreed)

Commenting on the poll’s findings, Rod Wood, Managing Director of Community Windpower, said:

“This poll confirms what we suspected all along, namely that there is significant public disquiet over the controversial Energy Generator Levy and its smash and grab raid on renewables.

“The levy is bad news for consumers, bad news for the climate and bad news for our national energy security.

“We need more green energy, not less. The Government’s own legally-binding commitment is that all electricity will be low-carbon by 2035. A dependable domestic renewables sector is key to achieving this, so why are Ministers undermining their own ability to achieve net zero?”

He went on:

“This polling shows that voters find it bizarre that the Government is bringing in a levy that will deliberately penalise renewable energy firms. This comes at a time when over half of Britain’s electricity demand is being met by low carbon power, saving consumers an estimated £5.7 billion in the last quarter by avoiding the need for gas imports.

“With this policy, the Government is putting at risk the UK’s renewables industry. It is jeopardising £200 – £300 billion of new investment and the 440,000 well paid jobs that the Government itself had previously forecast to be delivered by 2030. Investors will simply look to other countries if this policy is not substantially reversed.”

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