Poll: British public’s faith in nuclear returning after Fukushima

A new poll has revealed that support for nuclear energy has increased among the British public, following an erosion of public confidence last year in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by EDF Energy, has revealed that 63 percent of Britons want nuclear to play a role in the UK’s future energy mix, as the net agreement figure increased from +46 in support in 2011, to +52 this year.

Just 22 percent of the 4,000 respondents surveyed would disapprove of building new nuclear power station on existing nuclear sites; a fall of 8 percent from March last year. 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 increase in public confidence over nuclear technology comes as EDF Energy prepares to announce its final investment decision over two proposed nuclear plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. The two proposed sites would have a combined capacity of 6.4GW.  

The survey also indicated that interest in climate change has plummeted from 72 percent in 2008 to just 59 percent in 2012.

Notably, the results of the survey show that more Britons support Government’s proposals to reform the energy market than oppose it, with 35 percent approving the plans and just 18 percent against. Support for wind farms faltered slightly, with net favourability declining from a score of +53 last year to +40 in just 12 months.

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.

De Rivaz added: "The survey also shows welcome support for 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.”