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Strong community support for wind energy

Waiuku In Support of Wind Energy

29 April 2005

New research shows strong community support for wind energy

A new, statistically valid public opinion survey of residents in the Waiuku region, site of a proposed 18MW wind farm, has found that a clear majority of residents support development of wind energy in their community.

The survey which was reviewed by Professor Philip Schluter, Professor of Biostatistics at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), found that nearly 55 per cent of the local population strongly supports wind farms in their area, 13.7 per cent were weakly in favour and 17.1 per cent were neutral.

“What the findings of this survey show is that 85 per cent of the local population either favour or are neutral regarding the concept of a wind farm in their area,” said the woman who initiated the study, Charmaine Watts.

Ms Watts heads the community group Waiuku in Support of Wind Energy (WISE) which supports the development of renewable energy in the local community. She said the group had commissioned the study to dispel some of the misinformation around wind energy.

“Too often the debate around this Awhitu wind farm project has been based on rumour, and false information which, more often than not, has been distributed by very small anti wind farm groups. It is important that we debate the facts.”

Ms Watts said it was important that this research was robust, scientific and would stand up to scrutiny at any level. She urged politicians and the media to read the survey.

“This survey provides external commentators and decision makers with a statistically valid representation of the view of our community regarding this wind farm. This will be particularly important when the Awhitu wind farm is considered next month at the Environment Court hearings,” she said.

“Despite the negative coverage around this proposed project, what this research shows us is a ringing endorsement for this wind farm from the people who live here.

“Less than 10 per cent of respondents were strongly against the project and research shows that opponents of wind farms commonly changed their views once the wind farm was constructed and operational and once they were able to see the reality of what is involved,” said Ms Watts.

“I am concerned for the future, and for my children’s future, and many people feel the same way - wind energy offers a clean, competitive and sustainable way to generate electricity. It is clear that the Auckland region needs more electricity and we all, as consumers of electricity, have a responsibility to assist. Simply saying ‘no’ is no longer an option.”

The survey saw 500 forms sent out on 28 March 2005 to randomly selected individuals in Franklin County. Of the 500 forms, 205 (41 per cent) had been returned by 21 April.


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