Monday, 8 March 2010

0.34% of Hackney's resident population responded to the Hackney wind turbine consultation

According to figures published by Hackney council on 10 January 2010, residents overwhelmingly said 'yes' to a turbine on Hackney Marshes. Green Power on Hackney Marshes

But just what does that mean? Well, the percentage in favour sounds robust: 87% of those consulted. But I wanted to know what fraction of the electorate that figure encompasses. Under FOIA, I found out:

Here's my question:

7) What percentage of the population of Hackney does this response represent?

And here's Hackney council's answer:

"In response to the above questions:

712 people responded to the public consultation on the proposal to locate a wind turbine on East Marsh. This represents 0.34% of Hackney’s resident population (estimated in 2008 to be 212,200)..."

So, rather less than one half of a percent of Hackney's population responded to the consultation.

And barely 0.3% of Hackney's residential population positively supported the proposals in the consultation.


  1. I responded to the consultation. I remember the consultation was publicized on Hackney Today which, if my memory serves me right, is delivered free to nearly every household in Hackney...

    Also, I faintly remember receiving another paper (a letter or leaflet) about it in the post (not completely sure now).

    It was also on the Council's website.

    And there were many emails on webgroups that canvassed opposition to the Turbine which I received.

    And @dalstonpeople tweeted it

    And also ran it on the website with responses

    Someone else in Stoke Newington blogged about it

    And mentioned being interviewed on the street about the Turbine by Hackney Council with camera...

    It seems there was very much publicity but people chose not to utilize it. Doesn't that go with the say that 'silent is consent'?

    I think the question your post raises is more to do with voters' lackadaisical attitude towards engaging in policies. Where such happens, our wishes may not happen miraclously.

    May be, you can channel part of your energy into raising awareness on these type of scenarios to prevent it repeating.

    Well-done for doing the job and I am appalled on the allege result of your enquiry and hope its not as bad as that.

  2. Thanks for your comment, godwyn.

    Yes, you're absolutely right. The council did publicise the consultation widely. It mystifies me why there was such a low rate of participation, but I'm one of those who sat back and watched. In my case, I found it difficult to vote for against a proposal that I found lacking sufficient detail.

    Whatever the reasons behind the low participation rate, it's clear that the sponsors of this project ought to tread cautiously when less than a third of one percent of the residential population has voted in favour.

  3. Well done for setting up this blog - I've been doing quite a bit of research into this topic which I'm happy to share.

    Hackney Council's claim that 'local residents overwhelmingly supported' the proposal as a result of this survey is ridiculous. Apart from the tiny percentage of respondents, the survey was wide open to abuse, with no way of validating whether respondents were genuinely Hackney residents, and submission of multiple responses very easy to do.

    I completed the survey which was run on SurveyMonkey, a website based in Portland, Oregon. It was clearly never intended for this sort of democratic purpose and it's quite wrong to use it as a way of justifying proceeding with a development of this type.

    Anyone anywhere in the world could complete the survey, and as I recall, submission of an address was optional - so it wasn't even necessary to go to the trouble of finding a Hackney address.

    There were several ways an individual could submit multiple responses, such as using multiple computers or different browsers on the same computer, or with Firefox simply switching to 'private browsing'.

    The whole exercise is pure manipulation and a cynical exercise in pseudo-democracy. There is every reason to believe that the communications tsars in Hackney Council had calculated that block votes from groups such as Friends of the Earth - who I believe in this case are misguided - would provide a substantial vote in support. On the other hand the majority of the population in Hackney don't even know where East Marsh is, have never been there and couldn't care less one way or the other. With the massive disruptions of the Olympics and Dalston developments, housing estate demolitions and so on, even the most civic-minded are exhausted by the endless rounds of token consultations.

    The rigging of this survey was also apparent when the Council's publicity stated "If the overwhelming public response to this is no, then this will not go ahead". What is that supposed to mean? What if 55% of people had said no? Would that have been sufficiently overwhelming? You either make it clear in advance what the decision criteria are or it's a sham.

    Unfortunately, the die is cast - there will be no further way for anyone to influence this project. Despite the turbine being in Hackney and not being constructed till the end of 2013 at the earliest, the planning decision, and probably the application itself, will be made by the ODA juggernaut, who proposed the idea in the first place.