April 14, 2014 12:04 am

Wind farms more popular than fracking, UK study suggests

COWDENBEATH, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Sheep graze on land in front of wind turbines standing close by Mossmorran Ethleyne Plant on November 6, 2012 in Cowdenbeath, Scotland. Concerns relating to the potential dispersal of pollutants have been raised by local groups as the construction of the wind farm proceeds next to one of Europe's largest ethylene plants, 25 miles north of Edinburgh. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)©Getty

Britons would prefer to live near a wind farm over a “fracking” site by a majority of three to one, according to an opinion poll published on Monday.

The findings appear at odds with the Conservative leadership, which is said to be mulling a moratorium on wind farms as part of its 2015 election manifesto.

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At the same time, the party is pushing for development of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, where water, sand and chemicals are pumped deep underground to break open shale rock and release oil and gas trapped inside.

The government supports fracking to improve energy security, bring down domestic gas prices and reduce household bills, but to date exploration has been frustrated by local communities worried about safety and environmental concerns. The sites have also attracted angry protests from environmentalists and other groups.

The survey conducted by YouGov was commissioned by Ecotricity, a privately owned wind energy group founded by Dale Vince, a new-age traveller turned renewables entrepreneur.

Of about 2,000 people sampled, 62 per cent favoured wind, against 19 per cent for fracking in their council area. Half those identifying themselves as Conservative voters said they preferred to live near a wind farm.

Mr Vince said the preference for wind was in line with the government’s own public attitudes survey.

“If the Conservatives believe that wind energy is worth opposing because it is unpopular, who do they think it is unpopular with? The government’s own polling clearly shows they can’t be thinking about the general population,” he says.

In January, the government announced councils could keep 100 per cent of business rates generated by fracking activity.

The government is understood to be preparing changes to trespass law to allow fracking on privately owned land, as part of next month’s Queen’s Speech.

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