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Poll reveals overwhelming support for nuclear over gas and coal

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Coal,

With doubts over what will happen to the UK nuclear industry following the withdrawal of the UK from the Euratom Treaty, more people who expressed a preference were in favour of the UK negotiating to remain a member of Euratom. However, almost one-third favoured the creation of a new, nuclear regulatory group including both EU and non-EU countries, which is in line with NNWE's call for a new architecture for international cooperation on nuclear energy.

The results also reveal that foreign investment and foreign technology in nuclear power plants would be acceptable to the majority of people provided such a project is led by a British/EU consortium, rather than under foreign control.

In more detail, the figures released today by NNWE show:

  • Over twice as many people support the use of nuclear power in the UK energy mix than oppose it (56% vs 25%). Support for Hinkley Point C has rallied and is now at 40% compared to 33% in April 2016.
  • There is overwhelming support for nuclear power to supply baseload power to complement renewable energy technology, with nuclear power over four times more popular than gas, its closest rival (40% vs 9% for gas, 4% for coal).
  • 43% of people were in favour of the UK negotiating to remain a member of the Euratom Treaty, and 30% supportive of the creation of a new, nuclear regulatory group including EU and non-EU countries.
  • Just over half (51%) of those surveyed approve of a British/EU consortium being at the helm of nuclear new build projects in the UK. When presented with the three current or recently debated initiatives, apart from Hinkley Point C, the outcome was as follows:
  • 17% approved and 54% disapproved of a South Korean-led development at Moorside, Cumbria with Korean technology.
  • 17% approved and 56% disapproved of a Chinese/French-led development at Bradwell, Essex, with Chinese technology.
  • 51% approved and 21% disapproved of a British/EU consortium with Rolls-Royce modifications to Russian technology.

Chairman of NNWE, Tim Yeo, commented:

"NNWE is a strong supporter of renewable energy, but as an intermittent form of generation it needs to be backed up by secure, low-carbon and cost-effective baseload power, which can only be supplied by nuclear. We are pleased that the YouGov poll supports this position and shows that the public recognises nuclear as by far the best option to supply baseload energy.

"NNWE has previously warned that Brexit will see the departure of one of the leading pro-nuclear voices in the EU, and if Britain quits the Euratom Treaty the nuclear sector could fare badly. Brexatom could weaken Britain's energy security, increase consumer prices and prevent it from meeting its carbon emission reduction targets. Top priority must be given to ensuring the survival of Britain's nuclear industry.

"If the UK is to leave Euratom, it is vital that a new architecture for international cooperation on nuclear energy is created. NNWE has put forward outline plans for the Organisation for Nuclear Cooperation in Europe (ONCE) to strengthen and expand the ties between pro-nuclear countries both in the EU and on the borders of the EU to ensure continued co-operation in new nuclear development.

"In order to give consumers the best value Britain needs to look beyond Europe to other overseas vendors from countries such as China, Russia and South Korea. These countries have developed nuclear technologies which can generate electricity at close to half the price Britain has agreed for Hinkley Point.

"This YouGov survey demonstrates that people are supportive of using overseas nuclear technology as long as the development is UK-EU led. A debate about the terms on which the use of technology developed outside Europe is acceptable for new nuclear plant is urgently needed.

"Britain can build on the criteria established by Prime Minister May last September when she approved Chinese involvement in Hinkley Point. Firstly, the shareholding of non-EEA state controlled entities in the operating company should be less than 40%. Secondly, operational control of the company must remain with EEA companies/organisations. Thirdly, IT control systems must be supplied by a trusted British vendor".

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