Stop Hinkley Press Release:
29 September 2008
Study on local public acceptance of new nuclear power stations
Stop Hinkley (Shut Oldbury) campaigners have welcomed a five year Cardiff University study that shows only qualified support for nuclear new build in communities near potential sites.
The report, based on thousands of interviews, shows despite overall support for new build at Hinkley (61% for and 23% against) (50% for and 31% against at Oldbury) there is a clear ambivalence towards nuclear power in over one third of supportive local residents (38%). Many of these want to see climate change and energy security issues addressed but see nuclear as risky and could easily change their mind on local new build. The substantial group who are totally opposed to nuclear reactors nearby feel the risks far outweigh the advantages, distrust the industry and government on the matter and prefer renewable energy.
The vast majority, 84% of local Hinkley (and Oldbury) residents said they want proper local consultation by the Government and industry on plans for new build, which would be undermined if local concerns were not fully taken into account. The study's authors suggest the industry cannot be complacent over support they assume will be there. This support is tentative and could be eroded, considering the combined weight of those opposed and those who are ambivalent.
Jim Duffy, Spokesman for Stop Hinkley (and Shut Oldbury) who attended the Royal Society presentation in London , said: "I think the industry might have hoped for better results than this. There seems to be a big chunk of nominally supportive local people who have mixed feelings and, when reminded of the risks, tend to shy from nuclear."
"Professor Pidgeon reveals that over the five year study, local people have demanded 'consultation in a proper manner' but the Government has already failed on this point with its rigged 2006 Energy Review which buried the low figures for nuclear's usefulness towards climate change at the back of its bogus consultation. We're still waiting for the results of Greenpeace's complaint to the ombudsman."
"The definition of 'local' might also be important here. Burnham-on-Sea is a long distance by road but only five miles downwind from Hinkley. Our own, less scientific, poll in the town showed 72% against Hinkley C in 2002 (Note 1). This could be due to fewer nuclear jobs held by Burnham residents than in West Somerset while health effects seem to be remarkably common there according to our commissioned studies. The county town of Taunton gave a 99% verdict against Hinkley C in the same year (Note 2)"
"Thornbury residents also gave the thumbs down for new build at Oldbury in 2002, together with Bristolians, people in Stroud and Cheltenham with a combined 73% against new nuclear (Note 3)"
Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley/Shut Oldbury Coordinator, 07968 974805
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Cardiff University led study reveals communities close to existing nuclear power stations show only qualified support for nuclear new build.
As the Government and Energy Companies press ahead with preparations for a new generation of nuclear power plants in Britain, the results of a new study show that many residents living near to existing nuclear stations give only qualified support to the construction of new nuclear power stations in their locality.
The five-year study focused on people living near nuclear stations at Bradwell (Essex), Oldbury (Gloucestershire) and Hinkley Point ( Somerset ), exploring their attitudes towards and concerns about nuclear power. The results of the study are published today, 30th September 2008.
A key factor in siting new nuclear stations will be public acceptance amongst local communities at the existing sites. Professor Nick Pidgeon of the School of Psychology at Cardiff University, who led the research team, explained: It is clear that the proponents of nuclear power have made the assumption that it will be far easier to develop new stations at the existing sites, because, among other factors, they believe that local communities will be very supportive.
However, we know very little about what members of such communities in Britain really think and feel about nuclear power today. This new research, which combined extensive interviewing with a major survey, helps us to understand more about this critical aspect of the current nuclear energy debate.
The study was carried out by researchers from the School of Psychology and the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, and from the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia.
The results, which are being presented this morning (30th September) at the Royal Society in London, include the following key findings:
On Experiences of Living with Nuclear Power
Interviews with residents living close to Bradwell and Oldbury revealed that:
On Support for Local New Build
The survey showed that 50% at Oldbury and 61% at Hinkley Point supported new nuclear build at their local site. Opposition to local new build was significantly greater at Oldbury (31%) than at Hinkley Point (23%).
The Need for Local Consultation
Regardless of their opinion on nuclear power, the vast majority of people surveyed (84%) wanted the industry and Government to fully involve local people in plans for siting new nuclear power stations locally.
On Differences within Communities
Although attitudes towards nuclear power were generally positive, the researchers found important differences in attitudes which showed that local residents are not simply pro- or anti- nuclear power. At all three locations they identified four distinctive points of view, which were confirmed by the survey conducted around Hinkley Point and Oldbury. These points of view were as follows.
Professor Pidgeon added: The findings suggest that failing to consult in a proper manner, or in a way that does not fully recognise and respond to local peoples concerns, would almost certainly undermine the local confidence and trust in local plant operators which has been painstakingly built up in all of the locations that we studied over a considerable period of time.
Despite the apparent level of support for nuclear power that exists in these communities, our research also demonstrates that many remain ambivalent towards nuclear power, and strong mistrust of both the industry and Government is voiced by a further significant minority of residents. Accordingly, any such erosion of local confidence could have adverse consequences for relations between the nuclear industry and local communities, and for the nuclear new build programme as a whole. This clearly argues against complacency about the future.
A full copy of the report is available from http://www.kent.ac.uk/scarr/SCARRNuclearReportPidgeonetalFINAL3.pdf
The full title of the report is Pidgeon, N.F., Henwood, K.L., Parkhill, K.A., Venables, D. and Simmons, P. (2008) Living with Nuclear Power in Britain: A Mixed Methods Study. School of Psychology, Cardiff University .