Surveys undertaken by the DTI (now BERR) and other organisations show broad support for the expansion of renewable energy.
A recent survey (May 2006) of awareness and attitudes towards renewable energy has discovered that public support for renewables remains high. The DTI (now BERR) commissioned GfK NOP Social Research to conduct a quantitative research project to explore awareness and attitudes to renewable energy amongst the general public in Great Britain, and determine influences on their opinions of this subject. The survey revealed that 85% of the general public support the use of renewable energy, 81% are in favour of wind power and 62% would be happy to live within 5km (3 miles) of a wind power development. Solar, Wind and Hydro-electric were the most recognised sources of renewable energy (90%, 82% and 82% respectively). More details on the survey results.
A survey conducted by Mori for EDF Energy showed 72% of people supported wind farms, and was the favoured choice of Britons to fill the energy gap in the future.
Another survey for BBC Scotland has suggested that more than half of adults in Scotland favour renewable energy sources like wind power to supply future needs. Of the 1007 people who responded to the survey, 52% saw renewable energy sources like wind, tidal, solar and wave power as the "preferred method of meeting future energy demands in Scotland". The survey also found that 21% preferred gas, 15% opted for nuclear and 6% saw a long-term future for coal.
Interestingly many independent surveys found that people with first hand experience of living near to a wind farm were more in favour than those who had no experience.
The University of St Andrews recently (12 Dec 2005) carried out research at several wind farms in the Scottish Borders and in Southwest Ireland. Tourism is economically important in both regions and they are renowned for their scenic beauty, so the prospect of an upsurge of wind farms was a cause for concern. However, Dr Charles Warren of the School of Geography and Geosciences established that, although people expected a range of negative impacts, these fears were not realized.
In most cases, people found that their worries about landscape impacts and noise were unfounded, with surprising numbers even finding the wind farms a positive addition.
These findings might seem unusual but, in fact, the consistent conclusion of all similar surveys is that large majorities of people living near wind farms like them.
Applications for consent for wind farms submitted to the BERR are accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment that includes details of the likely impact of the project in question on the environment and wildlife, among other things. In considering an application, the Department will consult with a range of stakeholders, including the statutory advisers on nature conservation, as well as others with an interest in the project. This ensures that decisions on whether to grant consent for a wind farm are considered in the light of the best available information about its likely impacts.
The Department has established a Research Advisory Group to fund research into the impact of wind farms on the environment. This has included a joint study with wind farm developers and Defra to collect data on the distribution of sea birds in the three strategic offshore wind farm areas, the results of which will inform decisions on the grant of consent for wind farm projects in those areas.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) make clear that the available evidence suggests that appropriately positioned wind farms do not pose a significant hazard for birds. The RSPB’s conclusion is supported by a report last year for the Swedish State Energy Authority, which found that only 14 of the total 1.5 million migrating seabirds that each year passes two wind farms at Kalmarsund in south east Sweden are at risk of being killed.
Projects like the Black Law windfarm demonstrate that, if properly sited, such developments not only produce zero emissions, but can also have a positive impact on the environment. The RSPB make clear that the Black Law windfarm, on the site of an abandoned opencast coalmine, represents an exciting opportunity to deliver real biodiversity benefits through habitat management.
In any case, the likely impact on wildlife must be kept in context. A paper in Nature, by a large group of scientists including one from the RSPB, indicated that in sample regions covering about 20% of the Earth's land surface - 15% to 37% of species (not just birds) will be committed to extinction as a result of mid-range climate warming scenarios by 2050.
A single 1.8-megawatt turbine can produce enough power for 1,000 homes. 
Existing wind projects generate enough for nearly half a million homes.
The average UK wind farm will pay back the energy used in its manufacture within three to five months – more quickly than coal and nuclear plants. 
Over its lifetime,  a wind farm will repay this energy 50 times over.
The geographical spread of wind farms minimises the loss of generation when the wind stops in any one location.
Back-up generation is already in place to cover shut-downs of other forms of generation; little further back-up will be needed up to 2010 to cover periods when wind and other renewables generation is low.