01 May 2024

Quarter of Britons would move house or job on environmental grounds, poll finds

01 May 2024

Nearly a quarter of UK residents say they will move home if their local area does not become more environmentally friendly in the next decade, according to research.

A YouGov poll of more than 10,000 people found 23% would move to a greener area if their city or town does not become more sustainable, rising from 16% in a similar survey two years ago.

Similarly, 26% said they would move to a more climate-conscious company if theirs does not cut its emissions in the same timeframe, up from 18% in 2022.

People really understand the benefits of green investment, but there is a degree of frustration at the speed and the scale of it

Chris Norbury, UK chief executive of E.On, which commissioned the research, said the results underline Britons’ changing attitudes towards climate change, adding that energy firms should work more closely with local councils to invest in sustainable projects.

He told the PA news agency: “People really understand the benefits of green investment, but there is a degree of frustration at the speed and the scale of it.”

The UK has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, but the Government’s independent adviser, the Climate Change Committee, has expressed concerns in the last year that the UK could miss its future targets.

Mr Norbury pointed to further survey findings that just 24% of people think the UK is working fast enough to reduce its carbon footprint, and that only 8% feel listened to on decisions around local green investments.

“People want more say, they want to be listened to. They do not feel sufficiently well engaged at a local level in the investment decisions that are being made,” he said.

E.On last year announced a deal with the local authority in Coventry, where the company is based, to become its so-called strategic energy partner.

The role will see E.On help draw up a local master plan for how Coventry will aim to achieve net zero emissions, while basing investment decisions partly on the results of consultations with residents.

Separately, Mr Norbury said E.On has restarted forcibly fitting prepayment meters (PPMs) after it was temporarily banned along with other energy providers, because of a scandal around wrongfully fitted meters.

He said E.On is “very cautiously” reinstating the practice, and has so far forcibly fitted the devices in fewer than 10 homes since Ofgem gave it the green light in February.

In 2023, the regulator told suppliers to uninstall meters that have been wrongly force-fitted and pay compensation. As of April this year, 1,502 customers across all suppliers had received compensation totalling £342,450.

Mr Norbury said: “We have to go about it in the right way. We’re very judicious and very cautious about that, and, obviously, compliant with (Ofgem’s newly published) code of conduct.

“If a customer who is struggling contacts us then (forcibly fitting a PPM) isn’t our preferred practice. We will try and work with the customer to support them and help them with affordability.

“But, at the same time, the level of bad debt that the industry is carrying has grown exponentially. This is one of the few mechanisms that we have as a last resort to manage that debt issue.”

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