British Split on New Nuclear Power Plants - Govt
Forty-four percent of the 1,000 people consulted across the
country last Saturday said it would be in the public interest to
give companies the option of investing in new nuclear power
stations, while 37 disagreed and 18 percent sat on the fence.
Secretary of State for Business and Enterprise John Hutton
welcomed the study of public opinion but called for rapid action
on building power plants as the country's existing reactors near
"We must secure our energy supplies for the future. Our
livelihoods and the future health of the planet depend on us
getting this right. It is absolutely in the national interest
that we make a decision and urgently," he said in a statement.
There is now no legal impediment to building nuclear power
reactors in Britain, other than a clunky planning system that
the government already plans to streamline.
But no nuclear power plants have been built in Britain for
over a decade, and none by the private sector ever.
Potential investors have been wary of costly planning hold
ups, unsure about the long-term cost of carbon emissions and its
effect on power generation profits, and unclear about who will
pay for and manage nuclear waste.
Nine in 10 of those consulted in the day-long sessions held
across the country said they were worried about new nuclear
waste and nuclear safety in general.
Just over half did not approve of the government's plan to
store the waste, which remains lethal for thousands of years,
underground -- along with the radioactive rubbish already
stashed beneath the ground from Britain's existing reactors.
Around six in 10 agreed that nuclear power could
significantly cut carbon emissions and help ensure security of
supply in Britain but warned against neglecting renewable energy
sources in the fight against climate change.
In the long-term, the public wants renewable energy to play
a bigger role in the UK's energy mix and for nuclear energy's
role to shrink.
The government has warmed to low-carbon nuclear power in the
last few years as fears have intensified about the effect on the
climate of growing carbon emissions from industry and from the
energy sector in particular.
Most of those consulted said that if the UK does continue
using nuclear energy to try to cut its carbon emissions, this
should be only an interim measure while cleaner, safer
technologies are developed.