RBA Research was commissioned by National Wind
Power Limited to conduct an independent, objective and dispassionate
survey among residents living near to the proposed North Hoyle
Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of North Wales, and also among
visitors to the area near to the proposed site.
The key objective of the research was to gauge
public awareness and attitudes prior to the wind farm being constructed,
including perceptions of the impact such a scheme is likely to
Between 10-25 March 2003, 237 face-to-face interviews
were carried out with a representative cross-section of people
living near the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm (116 in Prestatyn,
121 in Rhyl), along with 50 visitors to the area (half surveyed
whilst visiting Prestatyn and half in Rhyl).
All fieldwork, data processing and analysis
was carried out by RBA Research.
RBA is a member of the British Market Research
Association (BMRA), and abides by its Quality Charter. In addition
the conduct of individual researchers is required to be compliant
with the Professional Code of Conduct of the Market Research Society
RBA is a quality-assured firm, accredited
to the British and International Quality Standards BS7911 (MRQSA)
and ISO9001, in addition to being formally accredited as an Investor
Support for the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm
1. A majority of both residents (62%) and
visitors (60%) say that they support the North Hoyle Offshore
Wind Farm, with very few in opposition (3% of residents and 6%
of visitors). The remainder have no opinion either way. More than
one in four residents strongly support the North Hoyle Offshore
Wind Farm (28% do so) compared with just 1% strongly opposed.
Among visitors, one in five (20%) strongly support the North Hoyle
Offshore Wind Farm and not one of the 50 visitors interviewed
is strongly opposed.
2. Particularly likely to be strongly supporting
the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm are the 17% of residents (25%
of Prestatyn residents) who say they will be able to see it from
their homes (68% support, with 49% saying "strongly support",
and only 5% oppose). Among those who say that the sea view is
the main reason or one of the main reasons for living in or visiting
the area (36% of the sample say this describes them), 66% support
the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm and only 7% oppose.
3. A majority of the local residents surveyed
(51%) say there are "no drawbacks" to the North Hoyle
Offshore Wind Farmthe main concern raised without prompting
is "doesn't look nice" (mentioned by 13%)and
significant numbers spontaneously identify benefits in "cheap
source of electricity" (37% have this perception), "good
for the environment/non-polluting" (36%), and "good
use of a natural resource" (30%). Seven in ten residents
(72%) specify at least one benefit, whilst only three in ten (28%)
specify at least one drawback.
4. Similar results are obtained from visitors46%
say "no drawbacks"; whilst benefits identified, without
prompting, include "cheap source of electricity" (36%
have this perception), "good use of a natural resource"
(34%), and "good for the environment/non-polluting"
(28%). Eight in ten visitors (82%) specify at least one benefit
whilst fewer than four in ten (36%) specify at least one drawback.
Choice of location?
5. Those residents saying that the location
of the site chosen is good (34%) outnumber those saying it is
a bad choice (6%) by more than five-to-one, with half (52%) saying
the choice of location is acceptable. Visitors saying the location
of the site is a good one (48%) also outnumber those saying it
is a bad choice (10%) by five-to-one (with 42% saying "acceptable").
Among those who say that the sea view is important to them, 36%
say the planned location is good, 50% say it is acceptable, and
only 10% say it is bad.
6. After being shown a photomontage of what
the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm would look like from the shore,
a majority of local residents (62%) say that it is "acceptable",
and those saying it is "pleasing" to look at (28%) outnumber
those saying it is not pleasing to look at (6%) by almost five-to-one.
Among those who say they would be able to see it from their home,
there are more saying that the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm
would not be pleasing to look at (15%), but these are still outnumbered
by those saying it would be pleasing to look at (24%) and the
majority (61%) say "acceptable". Among visitors, the
results are 42% pleasing to look at, 44% acceptable, and 14% not
pleasing to look at. Among those respondents who told us that
the sea view is important to them, the results are 33% pleasing,
54% acceptable, and 11% not pleasing to look at.
7. The vast majority of residents (78%)
say they will not be able to see the North Hoyle Offshore Wind
Farm from their home. One in four Prestatyn residents (25%) say
they will be able to see the wind farm from their home, but only
one in ten Rhyl residents (10%) say they will be able to see it
from their home.
8. After being asked to think of another
location from which they would be able to see the North Hoyle
Offshore Wind Farm, perceptions of its appearance are more positive
among both residents (33% positive, 6% negative) and visitors
(50% positive, 14% negative). Aggregating the proportion of respondents
saying that the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm would be pleasing
to look at from their home, the shore or from another vantage
point, 38% say it would be pleasing to look at (with most of the
other respondents saying "acceptable").
9. Three in four residents (77%) and visitors
(74%) say that the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm would not affect
the view out to sea from the shore (including 78% of residents
who say they will be able to see it from their home and 83% of
respondents who told us that the sea view is important to them).
More think it will spoil the view a lot or a little (14% of residents,
18% of visitors) than will improve it a lot or a little (5% and
6% respectively), but very few think that it will spoil the view
a lot (4% and 6%).
Impact on visitor numbers?
10. Three in four residents (75%) and visitors
(76%) say that the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm would have no
effect on the number of visitors coming to the area, and more
think that visitor numbers would increase (13% of residents and
14% of visitors say this) than think the numbers would fall (8%
and 2% respectively). Among those who think that there would be
an increase in the number of visitors as a result of the North
Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm, the main reasons given for holding such
a view are"interesting to look at" (54% say this),
"associated attractions for visitors" (49%), "good
subject for photography, painting or drawing" (22%), "novel"
(14%), and "positive addition to the seascape" (11%).
11. The sea view is important to many residents
(13% highlight it, or a related aspect of the coastline, as important
without prompting and, after prompting, 34% of all residents say
it is a reason why they live here) but the North Hoyle Offshore
Wind Farm is not perceived by the majority of residents to be
something that will have an adverse impact on the sea view. The
sea view is more likely to be important to visitors (46% spontaneously
mention the sea view or coastline as reasons for living nearby/visiting,
and 46% of all visitors also respond to the prompted question
by saying that the sea view is a reason for visiting the area)
but, again, the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm is not perceived
by the majority of visitors to be something that will have an
adverse impact on the sea view.
Little variation between Prestatyn Residents and
12. There is very little variation in attitudes
between Prestatyn residents and Rhyl residents. Where differences
do occur, it is generally a case of Prestatyn residents being
slightly less positive than Rhyl residents, as we might expect
as the development is nearer to Prestatyn than to Rhyl. We also
studied the attitudes of those living on the coastal strip north
of the railway line but there are few significant differences
in attitudes between these residents and those living slightly
further back from the coast.
Awareness/knowledge around the North Hoyle Offshore
13. Also as we might expect, Prestatyn residents
are slightly more likely to say they know a lot or a little about
the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm. Among residents as a whole,
49% say they are knowledgeable about the planned wind farm, 34%
say they have "heard of it but that's all" and 16% say
they have "never heard of it". Among visitors, a majority
(58%) say they have "never heard of it", 30% say "heard
about it but that's all" and only 12% say they know a lot
or a little about the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm. Whereas
only 6% of those aged 60 or over had not heard about the offshore
development prior to the interview, 48% of 16-29 year olds say
"never heard of it", and this is consistent with the
fact that younger people are less likely to go to exhibitions
or read local newspapers (35% of 16-29 year olds and 47% of those
not aware of the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm say they do not
read any local newspapers).
14. Although they do not tend to reach visitors
or many local people aged under thirty, 89% of residents say they
regularly read the Rhyl Journal and 82% say they regularly read
the Rhyl & Prestatyn Visitor. Partly via these sources, around
one in ten residents (11%) say they are aware that the North Hoyle
Offshore Wind Farm will generate enough electricity for around
50,000 homes, but three in ten (29%) underestimate the generating
capacity and a majority of residents (55%) "don't know"
what it is. Visitors are less likely to say "don't know",
when asked what the generating capacity is, but half (50%) make
incorrect guesses at 25,000 homes or less.
Knowledge of renewable energy sources
15. Without prompting, six in seven visitors
are able to mention some renewable sources of electricity, with
the top answer being "solar power" (64% mention this)
and then "wind" (50%). Among residents, we also find
that six in seven spontaneously identify renewable sources but,
this time, the top answer is "wind" (70% mention this
with 42% saying "solar" or "the sun"). In
both cases, the vast majority (84% of residents and 92% of visitors)
say that a higher percentage of the UK's electricity should be
generated via renewable sources.
16. Nine in ten residents (89%) and visitors
(94%) say they are very or fairly concerned about the environment.
Their top six specific concerns are air pollution (60% of all
respondents say this concerns them), litter/recycling (59%), pollution
of the sea/beaches (53%), global warming (51%), pollution of rivers/streams
(51%), and nuclear power/waste (46%).