Support for nuclear energy has bounced back in the South West since the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year, a new poll reveals today.
The increased backing comes as EDF Energy prepares to make a final decision on whether to press ahead with a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset.
It could also influence potential new investors considering taking over the stalled new reactor at Oldbury in Gloucestershire, which the Government also backs.
EDF commissioned respected pollsters YouGov to survey attitudes to energy issues, with the work being carried out last month.
The results found 65 per cent of people in the South West accepted the need for nuclear as part of Britain’s energy mix – with just 14 per cent disagreeing.
And net support for building new nuclear to replace the stations being phased out has more than doubled, rising from 13 per cent more people in favour than against last year, to 29 per cent more now.
And despite a year that has seen increased protest against wind turbines, support for new onshore wind farms is high, though the margin by which it is favoured has fallen from 58 per cent in 2011 to 40 per cent in 2012. Offshore, by contrast, enjoys a difference in favour of 61 per cent.
Meanwhile, interest in climate and change and global warming has slipped 4 per cent over the past 12 months, to a margin of 21 per cent.
Vincent De Rivaz, EDF Energy’s chief executive, said: “The poll shows strong support for investment in low-carbon generation. I’m encouraged to see the positive result for nuclear.
“While backing for renewables remains strong, the fall from previous peaks highlights issues which need to be tackled.
“Nuclear and renewables are both needed to fill the energy gap and meet the country’s carbon reduction targets.
“While the decline in interest on climate change is worrying, the issue remains and has to be addressed.”
YouGov found 90 per cent think the UK should aim to be self-sufficient in energy, and 51 per cent believe nuclear energy has disadvantages, but the country needs it along with coal, gas and wind power.
Just over one in five (21 per cent) agree the most important thing is to stop any building of nuclear power stations, with 52 per cent disagreeing.
The survey asked which policy areas posed major challenges for Britain and the Government, and pensions came top, with 73 per cent of people agreeing, followed by health (66 per cent) and immigration (65 per cent).
Just over half of respondents believed energy was a major issue (52 per cent), but that was ahead of education (47 per cent), law and order (40 per cent) and transport (30 per cent).
YouGov surveyed 381 adults across the South West online, with the fieldwork undertaken between June 15 and June 18.