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Fukushima fails to shake nuclear confidence

The disaster at the tsunami-hit Fukushima reactors in Japan does not appear to have had much impact on public opinion on nuclear power in the UK, research suggests.

Around two-thirds (65%) of Britons polled see a role for nuclear in the UK’s energy mix, according to Populus - a level of support seen since 2007 when the opinion research consultancy started tracking the issue.

Almost one in five (19%) supported nuclear power and thought it was the best way to tackle climate change.

But while 42% of the more than 2,000 people quizzed for the latest research were in favour of a new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK, just 12% were so strongly supportive that they would be very cross if the view that new reactors should be built did not prevail.

Of the 31% who oppose the building of another generation of power plants, almost half (14%) are very firmly against new plants, the results suggest.

According to Populus, the survey shows that almost three-quarters (74%) of the public do not have a strong view on new nuclear power and can be swayed by the argument.

A spokesman said: “The public clearly see a role for nuclear power as part of the UK’s energy mix.

“However, on the practical level of building a new generation of nuclear power stations, support is quite soft and could quickly be eroded.

“There is a role for the industry to engage with the 74% of people who haven’t settled on a strong position on this issue.”

The results come as the Government’s committee which advises ministers on climate change policy said that renewables had a significant role to play in decarbonising the energy mix - but that nuclear would still be the cheapest option for low-carbon power into the 2020s.

The Committee on Climate Change said ministers should go beyond the plans to build 12 new reactors, producing 18GW of power, by 2025 and plan for 22GW, or 14 new reactors, by 2030.

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