Early consideration of potential societal issues faced by the nascent tidal industry is important to facilitate public engagement and potentially avoid levels of conflict that have arisen within other renewable energy sectors; general expressions of public support (as reported in national-scale attitude surveys) do not always translate into approval for local developments. It is a very appealing idea that the likely response of different types of communities to marine energy developments can be mapped and used to support planning. This study examined the attitudes of 963 people in South West England to hypothetical local tidal energy projects, analysing the results both by geographic location and according to the coastal community typology developed for England by the Marine Management Organisation. With the exception of age, demographic variables had little influence on the level of opposition to tidal energy, which instead was affected more by factors such as attitudes towards tidal energy in general (in particular its likely environmental impact), activities undertaken at the coast, and place attachment. These significant factors are typically not captured by the national census data used to determine community types. Any predictions about the acceptability of energy projects made as a result of community mapping based on demographic variables will not be a substitute for thorough public engagement and consultation, which should centre on the implications of tidal developments for the environment.