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Britons split three ways on attitude to nuclear power



A study carried out by researchers from Cardiff University and the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan shows an overall increase in support for nuclear power since 2005.

The survey suggests that 36% of the British public now support nuclear power, with 29% opposed to the production of energy using nuclear power plants. In Japan however, support for nuclear power has dramatically decreased in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The study asked detailed questions on the use of nuclear power, the risks it carries and the health and safety regulations surrounding the industry.

Wouter Poortinga, lead researcher of the study, said that despite the increased support, the British public still favour alternative renewable energy production methods.

“British attitudes towards nuclear power have been surprisingly robust in the wake of the Fukushima accident, and trust in regulation has held up fairly well”, said Poortinga.

“It even appears that the attitudes to nuclear have softened somewhat after Fukushima.  However, in reality, nuclear power remains relatively unpopular as compared to renewable energy sources”.

In comparison to British opinion, Japan showed a 53% support for phasing out nuclear power all together.

The survey comes alongside research carried out by the UK Energy Research Centre, which suggests that more people are beginning to doubt climate change.

The Times reported on Thursday that the “number of climate sceptics [has soared]”, with 4% doubting the science in 2005, 15% in 2010 and 19% in 2013. The research adds, however, that nearly three-quarters (72%) of the British public accept that the Earth’s climate is changing.

Speaking about the nuclear power survey, Midori Aoyagi of the National Institute for Environmental Studies said, “Our research shows that nuclear power has become very unpopular in Japan after the Fukushima accident. Public trust in the regulation of nuclear power is now at an all-time low.  Instead most people would like to see the development of more solar and wind energy to replace nuclear power in the longer term”.

Japanese power company Tepco was recently heavily criticised by the Japanese government for not being able to cope with the consequences of the disaster. Ministers said that “[…] you can’t just leave it up to Tepco alone.” 

European nations, including France and Germany, have declared their opposition to nuclear power since the Fukushima disaster, favouring renewable energy sources instead.

Further reading:

Hollande’s France and its shift from nuclear to renewables

Japanese government takes control of Fukushima nuclear plant

Germany sets solar benchmark over sunny weekend

Surviving without nuclear power