Support grows for nuclear energy option

THE East of England has become more positive about nuclear power as an energy option and is strongly in favour of wind power, a survey has shown.

THE East of England has become more positive about nuclear power as an energy option and is strongly in favour of wind power, a survey has shown.

A poll, commissioned by EDF Energy ahead of today's Queen's Speech and a final decision by the Government on the nuclear power option, found a net 9% in favour of nuclear power stations in the region.

They were favoured over gas or coal options, although they still fell a long way behind wind power in popularity.

The regional figures compared with a national net figure of 4% in favour of nuclear, and a neutral result on the nuclear question last year. Overall within the eastern region, 39% were very or mainly in favour of nuclear power stations, 27% were neither favourable nor unfavourable, and 30% were very or mainly unfavourable.

EDF Energy said the survey supported its view that the UK needed “a diverse mix of energy solutions” to meet the looming energy gap. It believes nuclear energy, as well as renewables and energy efficiency, has a key part to play in providing future needs.

The survey showed a net 69% were in favour of wind farms in the region, compared to 67% nationwide. 72% of those surveyed in this region were in favour of land-based wind farms, and 83% supported off-shore wind schemes.

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More than 4,000 people were surveyed nationwide at the end of October this year in the YouGov/EDF poll, including just under 400 from the East of England.

Net support regionally for on-shore wind farms, taking into account the 15% opposed, was 57%, while a net 78% supported the off-shore option, taking into account the 5% opposed.

The study also found that 47% of those polled in the eastern region supported the idea of nuclear power stations being built to replace the old ones being phased out, compared to 46% nationally. Meanwhile, 29% in the east opposed building more nuclear plants, giving a net support figure for the option of 18%.

However, a large proportion in the region - 87% - feared nuclear energy was vulnerable to terrorist attack, 81% were concerned about its safety, and 80% were concerned about the issue of disposal of nuclear waste.

A further 48% in the region felt nuclear energy and wind power spoils the landscape. However, coal fared worse, with 54% feeling it spoilt the landscape.

Coal and gas energy were the region's least favoured options, with a net 12% unfavourable result for gas, and a net 37% against coal energy.

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said the survey was part of the company's “ongoing contribution” to the UK's energy debate.

“This survey supports our views that the UK needs a diverse mix of energy solutions to meet the looming energy gap,” he added. ““Alongside energy efficiency, EDF Energy believes that nuclear and renewables have a key role to play in that mix with clean coal-fired and gas-fired generation.”