The latest results from DECC’s polling tracking public opinion on nuclear power shows that public opinion is up slightly this month. The department has run these polls every quarter since the start of 2012 and they have consistently shown majority support for the use of nuclear power. This quarter support is at 36% (this was up from 33% last time although still lower than the maximum 42% just over a year ago) with 25% opposed. 37% either don’t know or expressed no opinion. This sort of don’t know figure has been consistent in almost all opinion surveys on nuclear power.
However the survey also shows that the Government still has a long way to go in educating the public about nuclear waste and decommissioning with 85% saying that they know nothing or almost nothing about it although when asked about geological disposal 42% knew something about it. Again this is little changed on previous findings.
The nuclear industry has welcomed the findings with Nuclear Industry Association Chief Executive, Keith Parker, saying, “Support for the nuclear energy sector remains consistent. New nuclear projects continue to gather momentum and with clear progress across the NDA estate we hope to see more people who remain neutral moving towards support for the sector, as they realise the various benefits nuclear brings to local economies and the energy security it provides.
He did though recognise the need to do more to boost awareness about what is being done on waste and decommissioning saying, “As an industry, we must always do more to ensure people understand the engineering process undertaken in dealing with nuclear waste as well as how this waste is stored. There are many good news stories on the sectors decommissioning efforts. Sellafield recently announced that half of the radioactivity from the oldest pond at the site has been removed, for example. As people become more aware of the positive achievements in the sector, and the facts about Geological Disposal we are confident that public support will increase.”
However some green campaigners have been keen to stress that the support levels for nuclear remain far below that for renewable technologies which over all have 76% support with solar being the most supported individual technology at 80%. The least popular technology surveyed was fracking which is opposed by the more people than support it (by 30% to 23%).
Concern about security of energy supplies was also down although the field work for the survey was conducted before the recent National Grid system alert.