A shift in nuclear attitudes

9 May 2006

Public opposition to nuclear power is softening, although the majority of the UK population is still opposed to new build finds a new survey.

The results come from a survey by KPMG International and the YouGov polling agency. According to the survey of more than 2160 people, 45% would favour a reduction in the nuclear fleet, down from 58% last year, while 36% would like to see more nuclear plants, up from 29% last year. Public opposition to nuclear has apparently slumped in the face of a series of retail energy price rises.

However, UK MPs have presented a petition to 10 Downing Street, signed by 2350 people opposing new nuclear power stations in Wales. The petition, which has been running for three months reads: “We, the undersigned, strongly oppose the commissioning of any nuclear power stations in Wales and demand safer, cleaner, cheaper technology.”

Commenting, Jenny Willott, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, said: “This petition shows there is widespread opposition to nuclear power across Wales. Our message to the government is clear: nuclear power is not the answer to Wales’ energy needs.” Willott has tabled an Early Day Motion, ‘Keep Wales Nuclear Free Campaign’, which has so far been signed by 21 MPs and favours energy efficiency, renewables and new technologies such as carbon capture and storage, clean coal and hydrogen.

However, the 1180MWe dual-Magnox Wylfa plant on Anglesea is due to be decommissioned in 2010. Additional costs associated with transmitting expensive gas-fired capacity from the national grid leaves a key employer on the island, a nearby aluminium smelter, facing closure.

Across the Irish Sea, Northern Ireland’s Derry City Council's Development Committee has heard proposals for a 2 GW new-build nuclear power station in the city at the site of an existing power station in Coolkeeragh from local businessman Robert Andrews.

While Green Party councillors are urging the Committee to reject the proposals, Andrews argues that such a development would deliver a significant boost to the local economy through job creation and energy. “I believe from a technical point of view that it is safe, it is efficient, it is very profitable,” said Andrews.

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