Public support for nuclear energy has bounced back strongly following last year’s Fukushima crisis in Japan while opposition to building new nuclear stations on the site of old ones has fallen to its lowest level in five years, a new poll revealed today.
The YouGov survey, which was commissioned by EDF Energy, found nearly two thirds of Britons (63%) now back the use of nuclear energy as part of the UK’s energy mix, as the net agreement figure increased from +46 in support in 2011, to +52 this year.
The number of people opposed to the building of nuclear power stations on the sites of existing ones has meanwhile fallen to 22%, its lowest level since 2008. In March last year, shortly after the Fukushima incident, 30% of Britons were against the idea.
Net support for building nuclear power stations to replace existing ones has increased sharply from a score of +16 in March last year to +28 this year.
The bounce back comes as EDF Energy prepares to make its final investment decision on plans to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The company is also planning a new station at Sizewell, in Suffolk. Together they would generate a combined capacity of 6.4 GW, sufficient to power ten million homes.
The survey also found more people support government proposals to reform the energy market than oppose them. Over a third of Britons (35%) backed the plans, with 18% against.
The annual poll, of over 4,000 people, found public support for wind farms remained high but had continued to fall, with net favourability declining from a score of +53 last year to +40 in just 12 months.
Interest in global warming and climate change has steadily fallen from 72% in 2008 to 59% now.
Commenting on the results, EDF Energy’s chief executive Vincent de Rivaz, said: “The poll shows strong support for investment in low carbon generation. 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.
“The survey also shows welcome support for the Government’s energy market reforms. These reforms are crucial to delivering the investment needs in future low carbon generation – and it’s important that they are delivered early next year.”
* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov. Total sample size was 4,009 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15-18 June 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).