'Solar power yes, nuclear power no'

3 April 2007

That is the verdict of Camden residents who replied to a consultation by the Green Party on the Government's recent energy review. Asked which energy sources should contribute to national supply in 25 years time, ninety-one per cent opted for solar power on their own building, and only four per cent wanted nuclear power stations.

These replies are among the findings of a nationwide survey of over 500 people. Commenting on the results, Councillor Maya de Souza of Camden Green Party said:

“This long hot summer is making people more aware of solar energy. Our

survey demonstrates overwhelming support in Camden for energy-efficiency, renewable energy and smaller scale energy generation, rather than the UK 's centralised system of giant isolated power stations reliant on the wasteful use of fossil fuel and nuclear power.”

The survey shows that the public want a new green energy future, based on local generation through community-based combined heat and power, micro-generation on their homes and places of work, supplemented by large-scale renewable energy projects.

“This is not an unattainable dream, but an achievable vision considering the givernment and local grants available", says Councillor de Souza

The Survey

Five hundred and twenty-four people from around the country completed an extensive questionnaire, either online via the Green Party's campaign website, www.greenenergyworks.org.uk, or at public meetings and street stalls held by local groups across England and Wales .

Forty-seven people from Camden were amongst the respondents, and the results for Camden show overwhelming support for energy-saving and renewable energy sources rather than nuclear power, and the need for local leadership to get these technologies off the ground.

In detail: Camden results

When asked to select all the technologies they would want to be contributing to the UK's energy supply in 25 years, support for fossil fuels and nuclear power was low, with 4% supporting coal-fired power stations, 9% supporting gas fired power stations and just 4% supporting the use of nuclear power.

Renewable technologies, in particular solar, wind and wave power, received the support of many more respondents and within the renewables sector there was also a large amount of support for small-scale, decentralised and community renewable projects.

The most popular renewable energy option was ‘solar power – on your home' , chosen by 91% of respondents, followed by ‘solar power – community projects' (87%), ‘wave power (80%) and ‘Biofuels', ‘Tidal power' and ‘Wind farms at sea' (all at 76%).

When asked directly whether they supported plans to build new nuclear power stations, 80% rejected the nuclear option, with 52% choosing ‘definitely not' and 28% choosing ‘probably not'.

In contrast, more investment in renewable energy received overwhelming support, with 100% in favour: 98% saying we ‘definitely should' invest more in the sector, and 2% saying we ‘probably should'.

Many people also backed investment in energy-saving measures at home and work. Ninety-six percent of respondents said we ‘definitely' or ‘probably' should invest more in these measures, with only one individual respondent opposed.

The Green Party's survey showed a large amount of public skepticism about the Government's recent energy review. When asked whether they agreed with the statement ‘I think the government had already decided what they wanted to so about nuclear power before this debate,' 52% said they agreed strongly and 39% said they agreed a little.

When asked if they thought ‘there has been insufficient time for the country to discuss and review all the issues about nuclear power,' 65% agreed strongly and 21% agreed a little.

The survey also asked what people would do to support or oppose different options for energy policy. To a question asking what actions people might take if the government pressed ahead with plans to build more nuclear power stations, the most popular answer was ‘writing to my MP' followed by ‘voting for a party that opposes nuclear power,' showing the electoral risk Tony Blair and Labour is taking by backing the nuclear option.

The Green Party's energy campaign is urging people to sign up to green energy tariffs, which mean consumers do not pay for any nuclear power. Ninety-one percent of respondents to the survey said they would be likely to do this if new nuclear power stations were approved, and 58% of respondents said they would be prepared to go further and take part in mass protests against nuclear power.

When asked about positive actions they might take to save energy or start to use renewable energy technologies at home, the post popular answer was ‘switch to low energy lightbulbs' with 93%, followed by ‘stop using standby' (91%) and ‘support measures to make low energy lightbulbs cheaper compared with ordinary bulbs' (89%).

In addition, there was 84% support for the Green Party's policy of introducing more environmental taxes to make wasting energy more expensive.

Interestingly, the least popular answer for this question was ‘join with others to apply for a grant to build a community renewables project'. This is in spite of ‘solar power – community projects' being one of the most popular options in an earlier question. This suggests that leadership at a local level is needed in order to get community energy generation off the ground.

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