Poll shows strong support for nuclear power

Liberal Democrat voters lead call for action on climate change and also back nuclear as part of a balanced energy mix. Voters of all three main political parties support nuclear power and are in favour of changes to the planning system to make it easier to build new nuclear plants, according to a major poll by YouGov for EDF Energy.

The strong signal of support from voters across the political spectrum comes ahead of today’s Queen’s Speech which is reported to include an Energy Bill.

Nearly two thirds (64%) of all voters now say nuclear power is needed as part of a balanced energy source for the UK, according to the poll commissioned by EDF Energy. The net agreement figure of +53% is now higher than in any of the previous four years that EDF Energy has carried out its annual tracker poll.

The large poll of 4,300 people revealed strong support among voters of all three major political parties, including the Liberal Democrats.

Nearly three out of every five Liberal Democrat voters (58%) believe nuclear energy needs to be part of the future energy balance, compared with just 15% opposed. That compares with the support of 74% of Conservative voters and 64% of Labour voters.

There is also support across the political spectrum to reform planning regulations to build new nuclear stations, with 48% agreeing and 18% disagreeing.

Among Liberal Democrat voters 42% agree planning regulations should be changed to make it easier to build nuclear power stations on the same sites as old ones. Only 25% disagree.

The poll also revealed that more Liberal Democrats than Conservative or Labour voters believe urgent action against climate change is needed. Among Liberal Democrats 43% say climate change is a serious and urgent problem and radical steps must be taken now. This compares with 31% of Labour voters and 18% of Conservatives. A further  31% of Liberal Democrats say climate change is real but there is time to work out the steps to take. This compares with 33% of Labour voters and 27% of Conservatives.

Responding to the poll’s findings, EDF Energy Chief Executive, Vincent de Rivaz, said:

“Our latest poll recognises the scale of the energy challenges facing the UK and the need for a low-carbon, eco-friendly economy as outlined by the Coalition Government. It is vital these issues are addressed. EDF Energy remains resolute in its commitment to a truly sustainable economy.

We are pleased to see strong public support across voters from all three major political parties in favour of new nuclear build. We also note that opposition to new nuclear build has continued to fall. This strong public support is further reflected by the clear backing for planning reform to facilitate investment in low carbon technologies, including nuclear.

We need urgent action if we are to meet the UK’s carbon emissions targets and address the looming energy gap. We believe nuclear power is the lowest cost low carbon solution and can be built in the UK without subsidy. Therefore, it must be part of an affordable, clean and secure generation mix.”

EDF Energy plans to build four new nuclear reactors in the UK, with two at Hinkley Point in Somerset and two at Sizewell in Suffolk.

Support for new nuclear was high in both regions, with 69% of people in the East of England agreeing nuclear is needed as part of a balanced mix. In the South West 65% agreed and just one in ten disagreed.

The annual EDF Energy/YouGov energy policy opinion poll is one of the largest polls of its kind. Polling was completed between 10 and 13 May 2010, immediately after the General Election.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The full results of the poll are attached for use in articles. Please reference EDF Energy as the company who commissioned the poll if the results are used in coverage

Poll Highlights

Consensus among voters of all three major political parties including the Liberal Democrats that nuclear power must be part of the future energy balance

– More Lib Dem voters believe action against climate change is needed now than Conservative or Labour voters

·         Nearly three out of every five Liberal Democrat voters (58% vs 15%) believe nuclear energy needs to be part of the future energy balance with net agreement at +43. About three-quarters of Conservatives voters (74% vs 7%) and nearly two-thirds of Labour voters agree (64% vs 12%).

·         Around half of Lib Dem voters (47%) are in favour of new nuclear power stations being built to replace old power stations (vs. 32%), with net support at +15. 63% of Conservative voters (vs. 18%) and 50% of  Labour voters (vs. 26%) agree.

·         Almost half of Lib Dem voters (49%) disagree it is important to stop building nuclear power stations in the UK, more than double who agree (23%). 63% of Conservative voters (vs.13%) and 48% (vs. 19%) of Labour voters also disagree.

·         42% of Lib Dem voters agree planning regulations should be changed to make it easier to build nuclear power stations on the same sites as old ones. Only 25% of Lib Dem voters disagree, meaning net agreement of +17. 58% of Conservative voters (vs. 12%) and 42% of Labour voters agree (vs 19%).

·         Liberal Democrats are much more likely to think that climate change is a major problem which needs action now (43%). Conservative voters are far more likely to be climate change agnostics and deniers with 43% saying it is not yet clear whether climate change is happening, and 10% say they don’t believe climate change is happening at all.

General results:

Overall trend of strong support for nuclear power remains steady with more people in favour of it than opposed to it

·       Nearly two thirds (64%) now say nuclear is needed as part of a balanced energy source for the UK (vs. 65% last year, vs. 62% in 2008 and vs. 59% in 2007 – net agreement up to +53 from +42 in 2007).

·       Opposition to nuclear as part of the energy mix continued to fall with only 11% disagreeing that the country needs nuclear energy as part of the energy balance (vs. 17% in 2007 and 13% in 2008 and 2009).

·       A majority (52%) remain in favour of nuclear power stations to replace old ones (vs. 46% in 2007). Net support has grown to +28% in 2010 compared to +15% in 2007.

·       A clear majority of the British public (52%) disagree that it is important to stop building nuclear power stations (vs 49% in 2007). Only 18% agree (vs 24% in 2007).

·       There have been marked improvements in the favourability rating of nuclear power over the past four years, going from slightly positive in 2007 to clearly positive in 2010.