Britons oppose new nuclear near them, but would support local wind farms

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
April 11, 2022, 9:56 AM GMT+0

Support for nuclear also rises if it would further progress on net-zero

Amidst a backdrop of soaring fuel costs, and questions about whether we should be sourcing power from countries like Russia the government has published a new energy strategy for the UK.

The plans could see eight new nuclear power plants built at existing sites across the UK. This represents a stark change from recent years when plans for several plans fell through, including a plant on Anglesey and one near Sellafield.

Onshore wind is also a feature of the new energy strategy and reportedly played a role in delaying the policy paper. Given historic complaints that onshore wind farms aren't particularly appealing to the eye, the government will be looking for "supportive communities" to host new schemes.

A new YouGov survey finds, however, that Britons are perhaps more open to onshore wind than anticipated. Seven in ten (72%) of Britons would support the construction of a wind farm in their local area – including 33% who would "strongly" back one. Only 17% would oppose a new wind farm in their area.

This compares to just 34% who would support a nuclear power plant in their area. Half (50%) would oppose the creation of a new nuclear site near them, with some 28% strongly opposed to the suggestion.

Britons would back local new nuclear in return for cheaper energy bills

Aversion to nuclear power is certainly not a new phenomenon. Indeed, the war in Ukraine may have raised old fears as both sides fought for control of the former plant at Chernobyl.

However, Britons are willing to accept new nuclear in their area under certain conditions. The government's energy strategy suggests that communities willing to host onshore wind farms would do so for a guaranteed reduction in their energy bills.

When offered the same incentive of lower bills for a local nuclear power plant, support almost doubles to two-thirds (67%). Only 21% would oppose a nuclear plant under these circumstances. A further 61% would support the creation of new nuclear in their area if it meant the UK was less dependent on Russian energy sources, and 58% would if it led to more progress on the UK's ‘net zero’ goal.

While most Britons generally support the construction of a wind farm close to them, support further increases if it meant lower energy bills (83%), less dependence on external energy (81%), and progress towards net-zero (77%).

See full results here

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