Greens concerned at biased portrayal of nuclear issue
Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor today expressed his concern at a
seemingly deliberate misrepresentation of public opposition to nuclear
power by a cross-section of the media(1-4). A report by the Tyndall Centre,
using a MORI poll, summarises that, 'People tend to favour renewable energy
sources over fossil fuels, whilst nuclear power is the least favoured of the
three,' yet almost all major media sources focus on a single statistic in an
attempt to show the public support nuclear power.
Various newspapers and websites including The Telegraph, The Guardian,
Channel 4 News and BBC News cite that 54 per cent of people interviewed
would be willing to support new build nuclear power stations. The emphasis
on this statistic is a serious misrepresentation of the report's overall
findings. The authors state that this figure is indicative of a 'more
reserved willingness (or reluctant acceptance) of new build power stations'
(5). In fact, 78 per cent agreed that promoting renewable energy sources,
such as solar and wind power, is a better way of tackling climate change
than nuclear power. Only 9 per cent maintained that the number of nuclear
power stations should be increased while 84 per cent believe that nuclear
power creates dangerous waste and 70 per cent believe it is a hazard to
Keith Taylor said: "The authors state that there has been a reframing of the
climate change as a choice between climate change and nuclear power. They
comment that the majority of interviewees rejected this 'risk trade-off' in
favour of lifestyle changes and a focus on renewables.
"The public have a more sophisticated understanding of energy issues than
the government gives credit for and it is shocking that the media are
misrepresenting the debate. All the media simultaneously focused on a small
statistic in the report that shows the result they were obviously looking
for, and this raises questions about the freedom of our press from the
influence of the powerful nuclear lobby.
"Nuclear power is dangerous, expensive, has long-term waste implications and
crucially, and produces carbon emissions. Other European countries currently
generate significantly more electricity from renewable sources than the UK -
Denmark 20 per cent, Sweden 47 per cent, and Spain 16.2 per cent(6). The
government needs to stop pandering to the nuclear lobby and work to ensure
that the UK no longer lags behind in Europe but is at the fore-front of
renewable energy generation."
The Green Party is today launching its Green Energy Works campaign, aiming
to increase and highlight public support for renewable energy. The campaign
will coincide with the DTI's own Energy review, which, it is widely
anticipated, will conclude that nuclear power is a viable option. For
further information please see www.greenenergyworks.org.uk