British public gives thumbs up to nuclear power

The majority of people in the UK support nuclear power according to a survey by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Out of 2,003 members of the public who were polled, 56 per cent said they supported the UK’s continuing use of the technology, compared with 19 per cent who do not support it and 25 per cent who were unsure.

Of the people who support nuclear power, 82 per cent said it was needed to meet the UK’s energy needs, 56 per cent said it would provide jobs and 54 per cent thought it would boost the economy.

The majority (77 per cent) of those who were opposed said it is too dangerous or too damaging for the environment (76 per cent), while 27 per cent thought it was too expensive.

Despite the general support for nuclear, 44 per cent of those surveyed said they would protest if a nuclear waste facility was to be located 10 miles from their home, compared to 32 per cent who said they would not protest.

There was a general lack of awareness among respondents about what happens to nuclear waste and how much is produced in the country every year.

There are currently 16 nuclear reactors that provide 18 per cent of the UK’s electricity requirements.

Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, commented: “The results of this survey show that most of the public realise the vital role nuclear has to play in keeping the lights on in the UK. But there is a lack of knowledge about nuclear technology and the way nuclear waste is managed.

“As the UK Government presses forward with plans to build new nuclear power plants, like Hinkley Point C, it is time to consider the whole life-cycle of the fuel used and the waste generated.

“Nuclear is known to be an attractive low-carbon way of generating power, but we still need proper research and development of methods for recycling and maximising the energy returns from nuclear waste.”

Last month, the UK government gave the green light to the first £2bn worth of guarantees for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.

Balfour Beatty, Doosan Babcock, Laing O'Rourke and Weir have already been announced as some of the companies to build the new facility in Somerset. 

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