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63% of Brits favour nuclear energy says survey

By Katie Anderson on July 5, 2012

Public support for nuclear energy seems to be gaining momentum with some 63% of the British public saying they are in favour of nuclear energy being part of our future energy mix. 

The Fukushima disaster in Japan last year had a knock on effect on nuclear energy around the world, and resulted in a dip in its popularity as confidence in the energy source took a bit of a battering. Fuelled not least by growing safety concerns, people were naturally quick to turn their back on nuclear power following such a major incident.

Fast forward 16 months and Japan is now preparing to switch on one of its nuclear power plants. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda believes the controversial decision, which has divided the country, is necessary because it will avert power shortages and sustain the economy.

Nuclear energy, much like renewable energy, continues to divide public opinion. However as revealed by the latest YouGov poll, it appears to be back in favour amongst the British public. According to the survey, 63% of people who took part believe nuclear had an important role to play in our future energy mix. The survey was commissioned by EDF Energy last month to investigate public opinion surrounding energy issues.

Some 4,000 people took part in the poll and just 22% said they were against building new nuclear power stations on existing sites, and while 51% said that while they believe the UK need nuclear energy, they felt it had its disadvantages.

EDF Energy is proposing to build two new nuclear power stations in the UK – one in Somerset and another Suffolk. However it has yet to finalise a decision. The survey was to go some way towards determining current public opinion in nuclear energy.

Surprisingly, public interest in climate change has fallen quite dramatically. Four years ago it stood at 72% but it’s down to 59% in 2012.

Commenting on the results of the survey, which was carried out online, EDF Energy’s Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz, said:

“I’m encouraged to see that nuclear has bounced back after Fukushima and is supported by a larger majority than a year ago. While backing for renewables remains strong, the fall from previous peaks highlights issues which need to be addressed.

“Public support is vital to addressing Britain’s energy challenges. Nuclear and renewables are both needed to fill the energy gap and meet the country’s carbon reduction targets. While the decline in interest on climate change is worrying, the issue remains and needs to be addressed.”

However, despite an increase in confidence and support for nuclear energy, the survey revealed that wind is more popular than nuclear energy.