Web poll shows growing N-plant support

SUPPORT for a Sizewell C power station - expressed on a “nuclear debate” website - has increased, according to an independent consultancy firm.

SUPPORT for a Sizewell C power station - expressed on a “nuclear debate” website - has increased, according to an independent consultancy firm.

The website, www.nucleardebate.co.uk, was launched at the end of November to try to demonstrate how the internet could be used to gauge a broader cross section of local public opinion on topical issues.

Since then more than 250 people have visited the site and 80 of them have registered their views.

Within its first week those logging-on mainly recorded an anti-nuclear attitude, with 62% expressing general opposition to any plans for a new nuclear power station building company and 64% registering specific opposition to a Sizewell C.

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However, according to 2Cs Consult, the Suffolk company behind the website, views expressed by participants all over East Anglia have become much more balanced.

Overall results in the first two weeks show that 43% would back the Government if it decided further nuclear plants were necessary with 48% expressing specific support for a Sizewell C.

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While a majority of first-week participants thought the development of off-shore wind farms was the preferred solution for electricity generation in the UK, the majority now favours a new nuclear power station.

Bob Woolliams , managing director of “Cs Consult, said the response to the consultation exercise was growing.

“It would be fantastic to extend the online debate on nuclear power across the UK so that everyone living near an existing or potential power station could make their views known,” he said.

The firm, which employs 20 people at Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, has no client for the consultation exercise and is financing it “in house” as a demonstration project.

It believes the method can supplement traditional forms of public consultation, including public meetings and exhibitions, and attract broader participation.

The Government has ordered a new energy review to help decide the shape of policies aimed at meeting electricity demand and reducing global warming emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

The review is due to be published by early summer 2006.

If more nuclear power stations are built, the most likely site for the first is Sizewell where land has already been earmarked for a C station. It would cost about £3 billion.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said he had reservations about the usefulness of an online debate.

“I regard it with considerable scepticism because it can be used by certain parties for their own ends,” he said.

The usefulness of the debate depended on how well informed people were, he added.

n At the annual meeting of the Shut Down Sizewell campaign last week, Charles Barnett was re-elected chairman, with Peter Lanyon becoming vice chairman.

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