Majority of people in UK oppose new nuclear plants

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By G.A.Ponsonby

Almost sixty per cent of people in the UK are against the building of new nuclear power stations, according to a newly published poll.

Results of a survey commissioned by the BBC World Service showed that 59% of people in the UK were either against nuclear power plants altogether and wanted them closed down or were prepared to accept existing plants but no additional builds.

Those in favour of building new nuclear plants stands at 37% and whilst still a minority, the number was up 4% on the 2005 figure.

The poll, administered by GlobeScan, was part of a world-wide survey of 23 nations.  According to results, public opinion in many countries with nuclear power programmes has grown more opposed to the technology since 2005, with most people believing conservation and renewable energy can meet future needs without nuclear power.

The UK component of the research was carried out by Populas Data Solutions between July 6th and August 23rd, and saw one thousand people telephoned and asked their views on nuclear energy.

44% agreed that “We should use the nuclear power plants that we already have, but we should not build new ones”.

15% agreed that “Nuclear power is dangerous that we should close down all operating nuclear power plants as soon as possible”.

37% agreed that “Nuclear power is relatively safe and an important source of electricity, and we should build new nuclear power plants”.

Results from the worldwide survey showed that since 2005, support for nuclear energy has dropped amongst almost all of the nations taking part, with only the UK and US bucking the trend.

Over the same period, the percentage of Americans in favour of shutting down all operating nuclear plants as soon as possible dropped six points from 20% to 14% in 2011.

The survey follows the catastrophe that hit Japan’s nuclear power plant in Fukushima in March this year.

GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller said: “The lack of impact the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has had on public views towards nuclear power in the UK and US is noteworthy. This contrasts with significantly increased opposition to nuclear new-build in most countries we’ve tracked since 2005.

“The biggest impact has been in Germany where the Merkel government’s new policy of shutting all its nuclear energy facilities is supported by 52 per cent of Germans in this poll.”

The UK poll also revealed that two thirds of people in the UK believe that renewables could replace coal and nuclear power generation within 20 years.

Respondents were asked: To what extent do you agree or disagree that, by becoming highly energy efficient and focusing on generating energy from the sun and wind, the UK could almost entirely replace coal and nuclear energy within 20 years?

  • Strongly agree – 31%
  • Somewhat agree – 34%
  • Somewhat disagree – 18%
  • Strongly disagree – 15%

There was no breakdown of the number of respondents for each constituent part of the UK.

The full report can be read here: http://www.globescan.com/news_archives/bbc2011_energy/BBC2011_Energy.pdf