43% back UK nuclear plant subsidies

 

More people back subsidies for new nuclear power plants in the UK than are opposed to them, a poll has revealed.

More than two-fifths (43%) think the Government should subsidise the construction of new reactors, compared to 28% who do not back the idea, the survey of more than 2,000 people showed.

Almost half of those questioned (46%) support the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK, while 29% do not.

Among those who backed new nuclear reactors, almost three-quarters (72%) thought that the Government should subsidise their construction, the poll for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found.

The coalition is backing the development of a new fleet of reactors as part of effort to cut carbon emissions and keep the lights on, but has said it would only support new nuclear power with no public subsidy.

Nuclear is one of a number of low-carbon technologies benefiting from reforms to the electricity market, under which they will get a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate under contracts drawn up with the Government.

The policy aims to overcome the high capital costs of projects and give certainty to investors, with the extra cost for the electricity met by consumer bills.

But ministers have faced criticism that they are distorting reforms of the electricity market by "hiding" nuclear subsidies in the one-size-fits-all design of the contracts which will pay a guaranteed price for different types of low-carbon power.

Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: "For years now, the Government has been reluctant to offer nuclear power developers an overt subsidy, partly out of fear of the public backlash.

"These poll results show that these fears could be unwarranted.

"The future of the UK new nuclear build programme is currently on a knife-edge. Without an agreed guaranteed commercially attractive long-term price for the electricity from new nuclear plants, and a suitable source of investment finance, there can be no progress on building new UK reactors.

"Government needs to provide more leadership and help on financing nuclear power if they are serious about a new-build programme in the UK and we are to see the development of nuclear plants at sites like Hinkley Point, Sizewell and Wylfa.

"These poll results suggest that the public want Government to take decisive action to support nuclear power."

He said all low-carbon technologies required high capital investment but have low operating costs, so the Government should provide incentives that appear to be a subsidy at the start but if structured correctly could be a good investment for the Government in the long run.

New nuclear projects could support thousands of jobs, secure low-carbon electricity supplies and provide billions of pounds of investment into the UK economy, he added.

The poll of 2,034 people by ICM also found that the main reason for backing nuclear power was because it ensured a secure supply of electricity, with 70% of those who supported new reactors citing it as a reason.

More than half (55%) said they supported nuclear because it was low carbon, while half said it was reliable and the same proportion said it provided jobs.

Almost three-quarters (73%) of those who oppose new nuclear power said they did so because it was dangerous, while almost as many (70%) cited issues relating to nuclear waste.

A recent report by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee warned that the legacy of nuclear waste from previous generations of reactors had been allowed to build up, with the cost of decommissioning Sellafield's nuclear waste site now running at £67.5 billion.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence