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The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) commissioned ICM Unlimited to conduct a nationally representative poll of British adults on the topic of nuclear power. The poll covers, among other things:

  • Whether people support or oppose nuclear power as an energy source
  • What people perceive to be the benefits of nuclear power
  • What concerns people have about nuclear power
  • Whether people would support or oppose the construction of a nuclear power station in their local area
  • What percentage of the UK’s electricity people think is produced by nuclear power

The findings of the research are written up in IMechE’s Public Perceptions: Nuclear Power report.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Just over four in ten people support the use of nuclear as an energy source for producing electricity in Britain (42%). This compares to over eight in ten who support renewable energy (84%), over four in ten who support gas (45%), and two in ten who support the use of coal as an energy source for producing electricity (20%).
  • Men are around twice as likely as women to support nuclear, with nearly six in ten men supporting nuclear (56%), compared to three in ten women (29%).
  • Just under half of people agree that nuclear power is a low carbon source of energy (48%). Younger people are less likely than older people to agree that nuclear is low carbon energy source. Among those aged 18-24, only one in four agree that nuclear is low carbon (26%), as do just over a third of 25-34-year-olds (36%). This compares to over half of 45-54-year-olds (54%), 55-64-year-olds (53%), 65-74-year-olds (61%), and those aged 75 or over (64%).
  • The most frequently cited benefits of nuclear power are ‘reliability of energy supply’ (43%), ‘low carbon energy’ (37%), and ‘security of future energy supply’ (34%). Meanwhile, the most commonly selected concerns about nuclear power that people have are ‘nuclear waste / disposal of nuclear waste’ (58%), ‘safety concerns such as the risk of accidents’ (44%), and ‘radiation’ (35%).
  • Just over a quarter of people would support the construction of a nuclear power station in their local area (27%), while four in ten would oppose (41%). In a pattern that we see throughout the data, women are less likely than men to have favourable attitudes towards nuclear power. The proportion of women who would support the building of a nuclear power station in their local area is around half the proportion of men who would support one (19% of women vs. 36% of men).

Full data tables: ICM Omnibus – IMechE Nuclear Power Poll – Data Tables

The survey was commissioned by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and conducted by ICM Unlimited. ICM interviewed a sample of 2,011 GB adults aged 18+ using its online omnibus service between 06 and 09 December 2019. The results have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults aged 18+.

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