UK popular support for nuclear power rises -poll

Mon Jul 2, 2012 11:15am EDT

* 63 pct Britons support nuclear as part of energy mix

* Wind support, climate change interest fall

LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - The percentage of Britons who support nuclear power as part of the country's energy mix has risen, a YouGov poll showed on Monday, 16 months after Japan's Fukushima disaster fuelled opposition to the atomic fuel.

One day after Japan restarted its first nuclear plant amid public opposition, a nuclear company-sponsored poll showed growing support for the fuel on the other side of the world in Britain, where it is seen as a necessary technology to cut carbon emissions.

In the poll, 63 percent of respondents agreed that nuclear generation should be part of the country's energy mix, up from 61 percent in June 2010, while opposing voices fell to 11 percent from 15 percent last year, YouGov said.

"I'm encouraged to see that nuclear has bounced back after Fukushima and is supported by a larger majority than a year ago," said Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of nuclear power producer EDF Energy, who commissioned the poll.

EDF Energy wants to build four nuclear reactors at sites in Britain.

The poll said half of Britain's population supports construction of new nuclear plants, compared with 46 percent in March 2011.

Support for wind power faded on the other hand, with those in favour of onshore wind farms falling 7 percentage points in one year to 57 percent.

The percentage of people supporting offshore wind farms also dropped, sliding 6 percentage points to 68 percent. Four years ago the study reflected an 82 percent support for offshore wind.

The decline in support for renewable energy goes hand in hand with lower interest in climate change.

The YouGov poll showed only 59 percent of Britons were interested in the subject, compared with 72 percent four years ago.

"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 needs to be addressed," de Rivaz said. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps, editing by Jane Baird)

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