23/04/2012 02:31 BST

Large Majority Of People Want To See More Renewable Energy In UK, Poll Finds

David Cameron has been urged to boost UK clean energy and reduce reliance on imported gas after a poll found a large majority of people backed a drive for more renewables.

The YouGov survey of more than 2,800 people revealed that 85% supported calls for the Government to introduce legislation to make energy companies cut their use of foreign fossil fuels and increase wind, wave, solar, hydro and tidal sources of electricity.

Ahead of an international clean energy conference in London, at which the Prime Minister is expected to make his first major environmental speech since coming to power, Friends of the Earth urged Mr Cameron to back clean British energy.

The poll, conducted for the environmental group, found just 4% were strongly opposed to a move towards renewables, while a third (33%) were strongly in favour.

Those quizzed were asked to rank which energy sources they wanted to see more of as coal and nuclear power stations are closed in the next decade, with wave and tidal power getting the most backing - from more than a quarter of people (26%) - as the number one choice.

Nuclear came second as the most favoured option, backed by 22%, followed by 21% for solar and 17% for wind.

Wind, wave and tidal and solar also scored highly as people's second and third energy option, well above coal, gas and nuclear.

The majority of people were also in favour of the energy sources that produce UK electricity coming from the UK or the North Sea, rather than further afield.

Friends of the Earth's "clean British energy" campaign - launched today to urge the Government to stop the big six energy companies locking the UK into dependence on imported fossil fuels and to drive forward renewables - is backed by TV "dragon" Deborah Meaden.

The Dragons' Den star said: "David Cameron needs to listen to the public and say 'I'm in' to clean British energy, opening up a multibillion-pound opportunity for British businesses.

"Gas, coal and nuclear are the technologies of the past. Our country has the skills and the talent to be world-beaters in the renewable energy technologies of right now.

"Friends of the Earth's clean British energy campaign would switch the UK to home-grown clean power - we can't afford not to."

Friends of the Earth's director of policy and campaigns Craig Bennett said: "The public has given a clear vote of confidence to clean British energy from our wind, sun and sea - it makes no sense for the Government to pursue an unwanted, costly dash for gas that's causing our fuel bills to rocket.

"David Cameron must back Britain by using his speech to kick-start a switch to clean British energy - it's time to wave goodbye to costly fossil fuels and develop affordable power for the future."

The campaign is the latest in a series of moves by the green sector to fight back against attacks by opponents of renewables, and what they see as the Treasury's "anti-green" rhetoric and support for gas as an electricity source despite wholesale gas price rises being behind most of the increase in domestic energy bills.

Last week industry body RenewableUK released a poll which suggested two-thirds of people supported wind power and the majority found the look of wind farms acceptable in the landscape.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has defended his push for a "renewables revolution" in the face of criticism from US businessman and outspoken wind farm opponent Donald Trump, who is angry at plans to build offshore turbines near the site of his Aberdeenshire golf course.

The Friends of the Earth poll revealed that 88% of Scots wanted a shift towards renewables and four-fifths thought electricity should be produced in Scotland.

A separate YouGov survey of more than 1,000 people for Scottish Renewables found that more than seven out of 10 (71%) supported wind power as part of the country's energy mix.