Nuclear power after the earthquake

As expected, we’ve started seeing a flurry of polls on attitudes to nuclear power, post-earthquake. For now I’m going to focus on the UK polls, though there look to be a lot of non-UK polls too, and I’ll try to cover those soon.

Two have come out in the last few days: a YouGov/Sunday Times poll, which included a few questions on nuclear among other issues; and a poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth, and conducted by GfK NOP.  On the latter, just because it’s commissioned by a group who’re campaigning on the issue, doesn’t mean there’s anything dodgy about it. They’ve been good enough to release the data, and there doesn’t strike me as anything leading or suspicious about it, particularly the first question (which is the only one I’m using here).

Two things stand out from the polls:

1. Support for nuclear energy has fallen, but not dramatically

No surprises that support for nuclear energy has fallen.  I was a little surprised, though, by the relatively small size of the drop in support for building nuclear plants to replace those that are being phased out.

Before the earthquake, Mori in November last year found 47% support / 19% opposition.  Now, we see 35% support / 28% opposition in the GfK NOP poll (the YouGov poll had no equivalent question).

Putting this in context of the last few years, it only takes support for nuclear energy down to the level it was at in late ‘07. And while it’s fallen significantly since late last year, there’s still a majority in favour of replacement.


2. Men and women have very different attitudes

It’s not often that you see an issue so divided on gender lines as these polls show attitudes to nuclear power to be.

But, as UK Polling Report have pointed out, there’s a very sharp difference, especially in the YouGov data:

There’s also some division on social grade (ABC1 more in favour of replacement nuclear), but not as sharp as this gender divide.

I haven’t yet been able to work out whether this is new, post-earthquake, division, though my guess would be not.

More polls on nuclear to follow as they’re released…


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