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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Half 'opposed to nuclear power'
Nuclear reactor
The poll comes as the Royal Society debates Britain's energy policy
More than half of people are opposed to an expansion of nuclear power, a BBC poll suggests.

Some 52% of people questioned for BBC Two's Newsnight said it was wrong for the government to consider nuclear power as a future source of energy.

Approximately 39% of the 1,004 people questioned said they thought it was right and 9% did not know.

Asked what was the best way to meet energy demands cleanly, 57% backed renewable energy and 21% nuclear power.

Meanwhile, 12% backed coal or gas stations as the most feasible way to supply energy demands while cutting CO2 emissions.

It sends a clear message to the government that people really are supporting renewables
Jean McSorley
Greenpeace nuclear campaigner

The ICM poll asking respondents to say whether they thought it would be right or wrong for the government to consider nuclear power as an energy source for the future came as the Royal Society examines Britain's energy policy.

The Nuclear Industry Association believes it has a key role to play in helping Britain achieve its CO2 emission targets.

Its chief executive Keith Parker said: "Nuclear power supplies 20% of UK electricity at the moment without CO2 emissions so clearly it has a major role to play at present."

He also pointed out that nuclear power does not give out any of the chemicals, such as sulphur, that cause acid rain.

Nuclear debate

Jean McSorley, nuclear campaigner for environmental group Greenpeace, said: "It sends a clear message to the government that people really are supporting renewables".

She said she thought the scale of opposition to nuclear power was more than the Newsnight poll figures suggested and said she thought the figure would go up as the reality of where nuclear plants and nuclear waste would be sited hit home.

Energy expert Professor Ian Fells said that without nuclear's contribution to Britain's effort at cutting CO2 emissions, the country would soon be seeing black outs and power cuts.

He said both nuclear power and renewable energy was required to meet Britain's future energy demands.

"I am getting quite concerned now that major decisions haven't been taken."

The BBC Two current affairs programme will be holding a 30 minute debate on the issue featuring leading policy makers, nuclear industry experts, academics and environmentalists.

Also on the panel will be energy minister Malcolm Wicks, Shadow Trade Secretary David Willetts and Liberal Democrat Andrew Stunnell.

Newsnight's nuclear debate is at 22.30 BST on BBC Two.

Call for rational nuclear debate
10 May 05 |  UK Politics

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