Renewable energy of all sorts is at least twice as popular with the British public compared to nuclear power according to the newly released ‘BEIS Public Opinion Tracker Autumn 2022‘. Solar power was supported or strongly supported by 89% of respondents, offshore wind by 85% and onshore wind by 79%. This was compared to only 37% for nuclear power, 25% for fracking and 44% for carbon capture and storage. The survey recorded that just 29% of people believe that nuclear energy ‘provides a safe source of energy in the UK’.
83% of people were ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about climate change. The most popular change in behaviour favored by the public to deal with climate change is ‘to choose to walk or cycle instead of using a car’.
Academics have received a boost by the results which say that 86% of the public trust ‘a great deal’ or ‘to some extent’ scientists at universities. This compares to just 15% for social media, 41% for newspapers and 47% for the UK Government.
The results of the surveys clash heavily with Government priorities. Onshore wind is still (despite recent claimed changes) highly restricted compared to other energy generation technologies. Onshore wind schemes must demonstrate that they have the support of the local community.
On the other hand in the case of nuclear power, when it is proved that local people do not want a nuclear power station, they are simply overruled by the Government. Earlier this year the Planning Inspectorate ruled that the application for planning consent for Sizewell C nuclear power plant should be rejected. However, this was overruled by the then BEIS Secretary Kwasi Kwateng, who approved the project.
By David Toke
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