Fukushima a 'temporary blip' for UK support

18 January 2012

Support for nuclear energy in the UK has returned to levels seen a few months prior to the Fukushima accident in Japan, a new public opinion poll indicates. A similar poll conducted in June 2011 had shown a significant drop in support following the accident.

A face-to-face poll of 993 British adults conducted by Ipsos MORI between 2 and 8 December 2011 showed that 40% of respondents had a favourable opinion of the nuclear energy industry, exactly the same share as in a survey conducted in November 2010. However, a poll in June 2011 - three months after the Fukushima accident - showed that support had fallen to just 28%, its lowest level since the early 1990s. Those respondents saying they had an unfavourable opinion of the industry jumped from 17% in November 2010 to 24% in June 2011, but has since fallen back down to 19%.

Ipsos MORI said that anti-nuclear feeling following the March 2011 accident "now looks like no more than a temporary blip, as year-on-year improvement in support has resumed."

Click to enlarge
Public support for nuclear new build in the UK has rebounded following the Fukushima accident. Click to enlarge (Image: Ipsos MORI)

When asked whether they supported or opposed the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK to replace those being shut down over the next few years, 50% of those surveyed expressed approval - a level even higher than that found prior to the Japanese accident, with 47% showing approval in November 2010. Support for building new reactors had fallen to 36% in June. While opposition to the construction of new plants peaked at 28% in June, it has now fallen back to 20%, only slightly up from the 19% in November 2010. "Overall net support for new build is now above that of November 2010," Ipsos MORI noted.

Support for nuclear among British men remains much higher than in women, with 55% of men now in favour of the industry compared with just 26% of women, almost the same level of support in both sexes prior to Fukushima. In June 2011, support among men had fallen to 42%, while just 16% of women approved of the industry. Likewise, support for the construction of replacement nuclear plants is higher among men, with 62% now in approval, while 39% of women would support the move.

Ipsos MORI has previously conducted UK public opinion polls on nuclear energy on behalf of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA). However, the latest survey has been conducted by the company at its own expense, but has used the same methodology as surveys for the NIA.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News