Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Survey finds people want renewables and energy efficiency above nuclear power

Today's Independent newspaper gives a pro-nuclear spin to a Mori survey of nearly 1,500 people on the UK energy policy, but the reality is different.

The paper says that "the public is deeply divided on nuclear power but for the first time there are signs that a majority would accept it for the sake of tackling climate change." - "54 per cent of people would be willing to support the building of new nuclear power stations if it would help solve global warming."

It quotes Professor Nick Pidgeon of the University of East Anglia's Environmental Risk Centre saying that "[The public is] prepared to suspend their concern because they see a bigger risk from climate change."

But in an interview on Radio 4's Today programmme, Professor Pidgeon said that there was "a very strong desire amongst everybody asked to tackle climate change, and people would only accept new nuclear power only if it was part of a solution to that."

They "overwhelmingly preferred renewable energy and energy efficiency over nuclear power given the choice."

He said nuclear was the "least worst" option and that deep concerns remain about "hazardous waste and the effect of nuclear power on human health."

He said the survey didn't ask if people would accept a power station near their homes, but he knew from previous research that there is a higher level of opposition nearer homes.

Carolyn Quinn asked Pidgeon about the outcome of the Energy Review, due to be formally launched next week.

He said "it is too early to say, but clearly the nuclear option is being re-looked at. What I would say is that the Government will make a mistake if it confines the argument to nuclear vs climate change. It has to take account of other ways of dealing wth climate change like renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"It may be in the short term we will need a mix of energy sources including nuclear, and people may be happy with that, but it has to take seriously the finding that people want renewables and energy efficiency above nuclear power."


Independent article
Radio 4's Today
Professor Nick F Pidgeon.

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