Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Appendix 3


  RBA Research was commissioned by npower renewables to conduct an independent, objective and dispassionate survey to gauge the opinions of residents and visitors in the Rhyl and Prestatyn areas towards the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm. The research aimed to establish: awareness and knowledge of North Hoyle; opinions about the wind farm; the importance of the sea view; the wind farm's impact on visitor numbers and the degree and nature of people's environmental concerns.

  A similar survey was carried out by RBA in March 2003, before the wind farm was in position, and this provided a baseline that results from this survey can be compared with.

  Face to face interviews were carried out with a representative cross section of the residents, 100 in Prestatyn and 100 in Rhyl. Visitor interviews were also conducted in both Prestatyn and Rhyl (56 in total). All interviews took place between 1 and 16 June 2004.

  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 (MRS).

  RBA is a quality-assured firm, and is working towards re-accreditation of the British and International Quality Standard BS7911 (MRQSA), which is the industry-specific quality standard that incorporates but is more service orientated than IQCS, in addition to being formally accredited as an Investor in People.


  1.  Support for the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm has increased, with 73% of residents now saying they support the project, compared with 62% of residents before the wind farm was operational. Just 5% of residents oppose the wind farm. 71% of visitors say they are in support of North Hoyle and none of the 56 visitors interviewed said they oppose the wind farm.

  2.  Residents are as positive about the choice of location of the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm now as they were before it was operational (33% say a "good" choice, 52% an "acceptable" choice and 8% a "bad" choice—8% say they don't know). Half of visitors (48%) say that the choice of location is "good" (36% say "acceptable" and 2% say "bad"—14% say don't know).

  3.  There is no change in opinion of how pleasing or not pleasing, the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm's appearance is now it is in place, compared with before it was built. A third of residents (31%) say the North Hoyle wind farm is pleasing to look at, and 14% say it is not. Two in five visitors (40%) say it is pleasing to look at.

  4.  Residents saying the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm has improved the view has increased to 10% (from 5% who said they thought the North Hoyle wind farm would improve the view), whereas those saying the view has been spoilt has increased to 22% (from 14%). Less are now likely to choose the neutral option.

  5.  Two thirds of residents (67%) say the presence of the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm has had no effect on the number of people visiting or using the area, with people more likely to be saying there has been an increase rather than a decrease in numbers (11% say increase compared with 4% who say decrease). Visitors do not see any effect on visitor numbers (82% say this).

  6.  Eight in ten residents in the area (80%) identify at least one good point about the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm, which is no different to opinion before the wind farm was operational. The most common are: good for the environment/non-polluting (37%), good use of natural resource (26%), cheap source/way of generating electricity (21%), safe (15%), less CO2 (8%).

  These were also the most common answers in the 2003 survey, so having the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm operational and close to them has not changed residents' opinions.

  7.  Three in five of residents (59%), and half of visitors (50%) don't see any drawbacks. There is an increase in residents saying that the North Hoyle wind farm is a blot on the landscape (21% from 13%). 13% of visitors also say this.

  8.  Most residents live in the area because their family or friends live there, whereas visitors mainly come to the area because of the sea view (52% say this).

  9.  Half of residents (49%) use positive words to describe the sea now the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm is in position, which is no different from before.

  10.  The sea view is as important to residents now as it was before the wind farm was in position; 34% of residents say it is a main reason for them living in the area (52% of visitors say it is a main reason for them visiting the area).

  11.  Familiarity with the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm has, as we expected, increased; 61% of residents say they know a lot or a little (49% said this in the 2003 survey), as do 38% of visitors. None of the residents and just 7% of visitors say they haven't heard of the North Hoyle wind farm.

  12.  Just 11% correctly answered that the North Hoyle wind farm will produce enough electricity in a year to power around 50,000 homes.[262] It is clear that the promotion of the annual generation of the wind farm in terms of equivalent number of average homes supplied each year has not been absorbed by the public. The majority of those who expressed an opinion are most likely to underestimate capacity.

  13.  There has been an increase in the proportion of residents who say they know a lot or a little about wind power, to 62% from 40% in 2003. It is possible this could be attributed to the presence of the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm and associated publicity.

  14.  Almost nine in ten residents (85%) say they are concerned about environmental issues, particularly those residents living on the coast (91% compared with 80% of those not living on the coast).

  15.  There is increasing concern over pollution of the sea and beaches (64% of residents now state this concern compared with 53% of residents before the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm was built). Seven in ten visitors say this is a concern, which may be due to the fact that there are a high number of holiday makers amongst the visitors in this survey.

  16.  On the day of the interview, the visibility of the North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm had little influence on people's opinions of the effects of the wind farm, or their level of support for it.

  17.  There are some differences by area:

    (a)  There has been an increase in support for the wind farm by Prestatyn residents since the 2003 survey, support from Rhyl residents remains the same.

    (b)  Prestatyn residents are now less likely to say the view from the shore is acceptable, whereas there is no change in opinion by Rhyl residents.

    (c)  Residents in Prestatyn have become more knowledgeable about the wind farm.

  These findings could be explained by the fact that Prestatyn residents live closer to the wind farm.

  18.  Over nine in ten residents (93%) read at least one of the mentioned newspapers, and are most likely to be reading the Rhyl and Prestatyn Visitor (85%) or the Rhyl Journal (82%). Visitors are unlikely to read any of the newspapers listed (many visitors in this survey are holidaymakers), so need to be communicated with through different channels.

262   Since this research was initially commissioned this figure has been revised to 40,000 homes. This change has been made in the light of an update to the average UK domestic annual electricity consumption figure, which is now higher than when development of the project began. Back

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