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Majority of public would like to see more investment in renewables and not nuclear power

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Nuclear power debate still divides UK public opinion

Ecologist

11th June, 2010

The majority of the public feels the risks of nuclear power outweigh the benefits and would prefer to see more investment into renewable energy, a new poll shows

Public support for replacing the UK's ageing nuclear power stations has changed little since 2006 when the Government announced its support for a generation of new plants, according to a new survey.

Just 38 per cent of respondents to a Cardiff University/Ipsos MORI poll believed the benefits of nuclear power outweighed the risks and only 39 per cent trusted the industry to run the plants safely.

The survey of 1,822 people across England, Scotland and Wales also found that just 39 per cent trusted the Government to adequately regulate the nuclear industry.

Researchers did find a slight increase in support for nuclear when people were asked about tackling climate change or energy security - 56 per cent would accept the building of new nuclear power stations if it would help tackle climate change.

58 per cent of respondents also believed that the UK needed a mix of energy sources to ensure a reliable supply of electricity, but said that this did not need to include nuclear power.

Renewables support

The vast majority of respondents wanted more investment in renewables, with 71 per cent saying promoting solar and wind power was a better way of tackling climate change than nuclear power.

'In terms of developing a low carbon energy economy for Britain, renewables are clearly favoured whilst nuclear power remains unpopular but may be accepted alongside the development of a range of other energy sources,' said research leader Professor Nick Pidgeon, from Cardiff University.

The survey also showed that there has been a decline in concern about climate change since 2005 (from 82 to 71 per cent) but that the majority (78 per cent) still believes the world's climate is changing. However, a sizeable number (40 per cent) considered the seriousness of climate change had been exaggerated.

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