Strong support for nuclear power

Voters of all three main political parties support nuclear power and are in favour of changes to the planning system to make it easier to build new nuclear plants, according to a major poll by YouGov for EDF Energy.

Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of all voters now say that nuclear power is needed as part of a balanced energy source for the UK.

The poll of 4,300 people revealed strong support among voters of all three major political parties, including the Liberal Democrats.

Nearly three out of every five Liberal Democrat voters (58 per cent) believe nuclear energy needs to be part of the future energy balance, compared with just 15 per cent that opposed the idea. That compares with the support of 74 per cent of Conservative voters and 64 per cent of Labour voters.

There is also support across the political spectrum to reform planning regulations to build new nuclear stations, with 48 per cent agreeing and 18 per cent disagreeing.

Among Liberal Democrat voters, 42 per cent agree planning regulations should be changed to make it easier to build nuclear power stations on the same sites as old ones. Only 25 per cent disagree.

The poll also revealed that more Liberal Democrats than Conservative or Labour voters believe urgent action against climate change is needed. Among Liberal Democrats 43 per cent say climate change is a serious and urgent problem, and radical steps must be taken now. This compares with 31 per cent of Labour voters and 18 per cent of Conservatives. A further 31 per cent of Liberal Democrats say climate change is real but there is time to work out the steps to take. This compares with 33 per cent of Labour voters and 27 per cent of Conservatives.

Responding to the poll’s findings, EDF Energy chief executive, Vincent de Rivaz, said: ’We are pleased to see strong public support across voters from all three major political parties in favour of new nuclear build. We also note that opposition to new nuclear build has continued to fall. This strong public support is further reflected by the clear backing for planning reform to facilitate investment in low-carbon technologies, including nuclear.

EDF Energy plans to build four new nuclear reactors in the UK, with two at Hinkley Point in Somerset and two at Sizewell in Suffolk.

Support for new nuclear was high in both regions, with 69 per cent of people in the East of England agreeing nuclear is needed as part of a balanced mix. In the South West, 65 per cent agreed and just one in 10 disagreed.

The annual EDF Energy/YouGov energy-policy opinion poll is one of the largest polls of its kind. Polling was completed between 10 and 13 May 2010, immediately after the General Election.