43% of UK public back new nuclear subsidy

More than a third (43%) of the British public said they would support Government subsidy for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK. That is in comparison […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

More than a third (43%) of the British public said they would support Government subsidy for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK.

That is in comparison to only 28% who said they would not, according to a new poll of more than 2,000 people. It also revealed almost half (46%) of those questioned support the construction of new nuclear power stations in the country while 29% said they do not.

Almost three quarters (70%) said they support new nuclear build because it ensures a secure supply of electricity, 55% because nuclear is low carbon, half (50%) said nuclear is reliable and new plants provide jobs while 43% supported it because they believe it is cheaper than other forms of electricity generation.

Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which commissioned the report said: “For years now Government has been reluctant to offer nuclear power developers an overt subsidy, partly out of fear of the public back-lash. These poll results show that these fears could be unwarranted.

“The future of the UK new nuclear build programme is currently on a knife-edge. Without an agreed guaranteed commercially attractive long-term price for the electricity from new nuclear plants (the ‘strike price’) and a suitable source of investment finance, there can be no progress on building new UK reactors.”

Mr Fox added the UK Government needs to provide “more leadership” new nuclear build.

He said: “These poll results suggest that the public want Government to take decisive action to support nuclear power. All low-carbon generating technologies require a high initial capital investment but have low operating costs Therefore if the Government is to encourage carbon reductions, developers need incentives which may appear as a subsidy at the start but, if structured correctly, could prove to be a good investment for the Government in the long run.”

Out of those people who do not support new nuclear build, the vast majority (73%) said it was because nuclear power is dangerous while 70% said it was because of issues related to nuclear waste and less than a quarter said cost was an issue.

Last week Energy Minister Michael Fallon hailed the Horizon nuclear project, claiming it would boost investment and jobs in the country.