More nuclear, say UK residents

23 October 2012

A majority of people in the UK think the government should increase the use of low-carbon nuclear, solar and wind energy and reduce the use of oil, gas and coal-fired power stations, according to the findings of a recent poll.

Hinkley Point C_200 (EDF)
As a replacement for retiring nuclear power plants, EDF's new-build project at Hinkley Point C theoretically enjoys the support of 61% of the public (Image: EDF)

The YouGov/Sunday Times survey found that 40% of the 1734 people polled felt that the UK government should use more nuclear power stations than at present, up from 35% in November 2011. Maintaining current levels was preferred by 21%, while 20% felt that there should be less nuclear power plants than at present (down from 27% in 2011). Men were more clearly supportive of increasing nuclear than women: 54% of men, and only 26% of women, felt that there should be more nuclear. However, women's opinion was almost equally divided, with 23% supporting the status quo, 25% calling for a reduction in nuclear and 25% declaring themselves unsure.

The poll was carried out by international market research company YouGov, and asked adults representing a range of ages, political preferences and social grades from across the country for their opinion on a variety of issues pertinent to life in the UK. Amongst the topics were questions on energy costs and future energy provision.

As well as nuclear, respondents clearly demonstrated continued support for increasing solar and wind power in the UK, with 72% in favour of increasing solar provision and 55% in favour of more wind farms - almost identical results to the November 2011 findings.

Carbon-emitting power stations remain unpopular: more people felt that the government should be looking to use less oil, gas and coal power stations than felt that it should maintain current levels or build new ones. With 45% and 43% respectively calling for a reduction in the number of coal and oil power stations, 36% felt that the number of gas power stations should be reduced.

Companies take blame

The poll also asked respondents what they thought to be the main reason for rising energy bills. A clear majority of 58% said that they believed that bigger profits taken by energy companies were to blame. 17% cited rising oil and gas prices while only 11% felt that the cost of meeting government targets for carbon emission reductions was the main factor.

Over 70% of respondents felt that it was unjustified for energy companies to pass on the costs of meeting government carbon reduction targets to customers.

The YouGov poll provides a snapshot of UK opinion as the country's government prepares to introduce a new energy bill that will bring in reforms to help secure the necessary investment for a low-carbon energy mix including new nuclear. EDF is preparing to make an investment decision on the first UK nuclear new build project, Hinkley Point C, by the end of 2012.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News