Reputation Survey: Nuclear power - Japan's disaster casts a shadow

The damage caused to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant by the recent earthquake and tsunami has made the British public even more wary of nuclear power plants.

The ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan has affected the UK public's opinion of nuclear power, new figures show.

Last year, the Government agreed to new nuclear power plants being built on eight sites in the UK. But 47 per cent of respondents to PRWeek/OnePoll's survey of 3,000 people said they thought this decision should be revised in the wake of the Japanese crisis.

More than half of those asked (51 per cent) said they did not trust nuclear power companies to act in a responsible way. And 79 per cent said they would not be comfortable with a nuclear power station being built close to their home.

In a separate question, EDF emerged as the energy company the public trusts most that uses nuclear power, with 22 per cent of the vote. E.ON came second with 17 per cent, but 50 per cent said they did not trust any company.

But despite these findings, 47 per cent said they thought nuclear power was safer today than it was a decade ago. A further 61 per cent thought that nuclear power was safe, if it was managed correctly.

Twenty-seven per cent of respondents would buy electricity from a nuclear power company if it were the cheapest supplier, while 31 per cent would do so because they did not have a problem with nuclear power.

Sixteen per cent would not buy electricity generated this way because they disagreed with nuclear power, while 26 per cent were unsure.

SURVEY OF 3,000 MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC CONDUCTED BY GLOBAL RESEARCH AGENCY ONEPOLL

How I see it

Kevin Read, MD, Bell Pottinger Business & Brand

Following the Japanese earthquake nearly 50 per cent of people said the Government should look again at the UK's nuclear power programme, according to this poll.

And only one in two polled said they could trust nuclear power companies to act responsibly. With public confidence under threat, the nuclear industry needs to rebuild its case for clean and safe power.

However, this survey provides firms such as EDF, Horizon, RWE and E.ON with powerful arguments to counter media commentators writing off the industry.

Nearly half surveyed felt that nuclear power stations were safer today than a decade ago. When faced with a choice between a new coal and a new nuclear station, it is nuclear that retains the strongest appeal. Clean still seems to rule.

The nuclear industry must harness these findings to create a reassuring narrative about nuclear at a critical moment in the shaping of the UK's long-term energy mix.

UK PLANS

47% of respondents said plans for eight new UK nuclear power stations should be revised after the Japanese earthquake nuclear vs coal

55% said they would rather see nuclear power stations built than coal-fired informed buyers

41% said they would knowingly buy electricity from a company that uses nuclear power

Which of the following companies that uses nuclear power do you trust
the most?
%
EDF: 21.5
Horizon Nuclear Power: 6
RWE Npower: 4
E.ON UK: 17
Hyperion Power Generation: 1.5
I don't trust any of them: 50

Do you think nuclear power is safe?
%
Not sure: 14
Yes: 5
Yes If managed correctly: 61
No: 20

If a nuclear power company was the cheapest supplier of electricity,
would you use it?
%
Yes I don't have a problem with nuclear power: 31
Yes I want the cheapest option regardless of method: 27
No I disagree with nuclear power: 16
Not sure: 26

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