Public back nuclear expansion, IMechE poll reveals

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More than 40% of Britons want direct government incentives to boost the number of nuclear power stations in the UK according to an Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) poll.

The findings of the 2,000 strong survey quashed fears of public opposition to nuclear expansion said Dr Tim Fox, IMechE's head of energy and environment. He said: "For years now Government has been reluctant to offer nuclear power developers an overt subsidy, partly out of fear of the public back-lash. These poll results show that these fears could be unwarranted." Fox added: "The future of the UK new nuclear build programme is currently on a knife-edge. Without an agreed guaranteed commercially attractive long-term price for the electricity from new nuclear plants…and a suitable source of investment finance, there can be no progress." Westminster should help developers overcome high initial investment costs according to IMechE. Subsidies could create jobs and growth in years to come, Fox commented. He said: "Developers need incentives which may appear as a subsidy at the start but, if structured correctly, could prove to be a good investment for the Government in the long run." Cheaper electricity prices, reliability and low carbon emissions were named as the top reasons to back nuclear power by survey respondents. Opponents cited safety fears and concerns over disposing of waste as the biggest barriers to the technology.