Monday, November 07, 2005

Britons back new nuclear plants

Telegraph | Money | Britons back new nuclear plants


The Mori poll showed that 55 per cent of those questioned believed that old nuclear power plants should be replaced with a mix of new nuclear stations and other renewable sources of energy such as wind power.

It also revealed that 54 per cent of those polled agreed with the statement that although nuclear energy has disadvantages, the country needs it as "part of the energy balance, with coal, gas and wind power". Nearly four out of 10 people questioned believed that planning restrictions should be relaxed to make it easier to build nuclear power stations on the same sites as old ones.

The cabinet has been split over the issue of building new nuclear generators, but the Mori poll will give a boost to the industry's supporters, who include Tony Blair and Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser.

They see nuclear power as the best way to reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

Vincent de Rivaz, the chief executive of EDF Energy, said: "What's vital is maintaining a diverse energy mix in the future. That includes more renewables, new nuclear stations as well as clean coal and gas plants combined with energy efficiency measures. Diversity is crucial to address climate change, ensure security of supply and provide value for money for consumers."

However, the Mori poll also shows that the majority of people (76 per cent) believe nuclear plants are vulnerable to terrorist attack, while over half think that atomic energy causes dangerous pollution.

The survey also illustrates a wide level of ignorance about the UK's energy requirements. Over half of those questioned (54 per cent) said they were not aware that the UK will suffer an energy shortfall unless new plants are built to replace nuclear stations that are due to be decommissioned over the next two decades.

Nearly a quarter thought that nuclear power plants produce carbon dioxide when, in fact, they produce no emissions of the gas.

The Department of Trade and Industry is about to begin an energy review which will look at the nuclear power issue.

The main hurdles to building new nuclear plants are the unsolved issue of where to store radioactive waste and the initial cost of construction.

De Rivaz told MPs last week that new nuclear power plants should be built to help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, increase security of supply and lower energy price volatility.

EDF Energy's French parent is a large nuclear generator. Speaking to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, he said that potential investors in nuclear stations were being deterred because the Government did not have a long-term energy policy.


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