Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Might Be Time for Another Poll

Over the Holidays, I missed the fact that the Guardian (U.K.) had commissioned a poll on the British public's feelings about nuclear energy:

Almost half of Britons say no new nuclear power stations should be built in the UK, according to a Guardian/ICM poll which comes as ministers consider whether to restart Britain's controversial atomic power programme to meet growing energy demand.

The poll finds that neither the pro- nor the anti-nuclear lobby can rely on a clear majority of public support: 48% of people oppose expanding nuclear energy, while 45% support it. The findings show the scale of the public relations exercise required. About 19% of the UK's electricity is generated by its 14 nuclear power stations, but this is expected to drop to 7% by 2020 as older reactors are switched off.

There's just one catch: The Poll, conducted for the paper by ICM Research, was taken between December 15 and 18, 2005 -- about two weeks before the current crisis roiling European natural gas markets.

I wonder what the results would be if the poll were conducted again right now? And as it turns out, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is seizing the opportunity:
The spokesman said Blair had highlighted the potential problems of the security of energy supply at Hampton Court last year.

Blair had urged the EU to "come up with a coherent energy policy".

The spokesman said: "These events have underlined the prime minister's thinking in making that argument.

"Security of supply was one of the reasons both behind what the prime minister said at Hampton Court about Europe, and behind setting up an energy review."

The spokesman denied that the current crisis would necessarily lead to a new programme of building nuclear reactors in the UK.

"Does an energy review knee-jerk to one particular event? No.

"But does it take into account the need for security of supply, diversity of supply, further down the line?

"That's one of the issues that needs to be considered. There is an issue of security of supply, there was already before this event, and clearly this event underlines that issue."
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1 comment:

Matthew66 said...

I am not surprised at the British poll results. The Greenham Common women's movement, which in the 1980's picketed the US Airforce Base at Greenham Common for several years, was very high profile in its opposition to the presence of US nuclear warheads in the UK. I believe that many of those who supported that movement would inextricably link the military and civilian nuclear programs, which were in fact linked in the UK in any event. It will take more public debate and education to overcome those long held prejudices.