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Public support for UK nuclear and shale gas falls to new low

August 5, 2015
British public support for nuclear power and shale gas has fallen to its lowest ever level in a long-running official government survey, which has also briefly ceased polling showing widespread public support for renewable energy.
Nuclear and fracking for shale gas are key planks of the Conservative government’s energy policy, but the polling published on Tuesday shows just one in five people now support shale gas and one in three support nuclear.
Government sources warned last week that fracking plans could be delayed for 16 months after Lancashire county council rejected applications by shale gas company Cuadrilla to drill and frack wells in Fylde.
Plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley in Somerset have also come under fire recently, with the Conservative peer Lord Howell of Guildford warning of rising costs of the “elephantine” project and HSBC criticising the £25bn cost for Hinkley’s new reactors.
Green campaigners and renewable trade bodies said the polling showed the government was at odds with the public.
Daisy Sands, Greenpeace UK head of energy, said: “The government’s own survey shows ministers’ priorities on energy are at the polar opposite of what the British public wants. Popular technologies like wind and solar are having their support axed, whilst the more-unpopular-than-ever fracking industry keeps getting preferential treatment.”
Friends of the Earth senior energy campaigner, Donna Hume, said: “It’s little surprise that the more people find out about the risks of fracking, the more they oppose it.”
The latest version of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (Decc) public attitudes tracking survey, which has been running for three years, has also temporarily dropped polling on public support for renewable energy. The government has recently announced several cuts to subsidies for renewables.
Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of the trade body RenewableUK, said: “It’s disappointing to see that the Department of Energy and Climate Change hasn’t included crucial data showing the high level of public backing for onshore and offshore wind in this particular wave of polling.
“We hope the government will bear that in mind when it comes to formulating its energy policy so that it starts to take a balanced approach to all technologies, including renewables”.
The survey has consistently shown around two-thirds of people support onshore windfarms, one of the first targets of the Conservative government, which is ending subsidies for them in 2016.
The poll has also regularly shown even higher levels of support for solar power, and tiny levels of opposition. Last month, Decc signalled it was cutting support for smaller solar farms, having already ended subsidies for larger ones.
However, Decc said that a decision had been taken at the start of the year to shorten this edition of the survey, and that polling on renewables would return in the next release of the survey, due in November.
“New nuclear power and home-grown shale gas are vital to build a clean, affordable, safe and reliable energy system that can keep the lights on and heat our homes for decades ahead,” a Decc spokeswoman said.
Source: The Guardian

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