LDV survey: 68% of Lib Dem members back nuclear as party of UK’s energy mix

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of a variety of key issues, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Almost 600 party members have responded, and we’ll be publishing the full results of our survey in the next few days.

First up we asked about Chris Huhne’s announcement that he is now backing nuclear power in order to ensure the stability of Britain’s energy supplies.

Do you believe Chris Huhne is right to say that nuclear power, alongside oil and gas and renewable sources, should be part of the UK’s energy mix?

    41% – Yes, nuclear should be part of the mix as long as there is no public subsidy
    27% – Yes, nuclear should be part of the mix even if some public subsidy proves necessary
    25% – No, nuclear power should play no part in the UK’s energy mix
    4% – Other
    4% – Don’t know / No opinion

In total then 68% of our sample of Lib Dem members back an acceptance of nuclear energy as part of the UK’s energy mix, with only one-quarter rejecting nuclear power (as per party policy at the last election). Comments from those in the pro-nuclear camp suggested some relief at the party’s U-turn:

I have been slightly at odds with official policy on this matter for some time. This is a recent volte face for me, but I think the need for eliminating as much CO2 emissions as possible outweighs the negative effects of nuclear energy at this time.

I am against the use of nuclear power, but I recognise that in order to reduce carbon emmissions in the short to medium term it may be necessary to open a small number of new nuclear power stations in order to cut oil and gas use and a increase renewable energy.

I have always argued for a balanced and comprehensive energy policy, which could include nuclear energy. I believe that when conference voted against nuclear some year ago that this was a “single issue” decision based on false ideological considerations. We need to get real on this.

You can access all the results of past Lib Dem Voice surveys of party members here.

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This entry was posted in LDV Members poll.


  • Mark Inskip 28th Aug '10 - 9:30am

    You could of course present these results in a very differeny way, e.g. only 27% support public subsidy of nuclear power. I suspect you would get a much higher figure for public subsidy of renewals.

  • The idea of nuclear power without subsidy is difficult. We cannot have nuclear waste left disposal left to private companies, so government will ALWAYS subsidise nuclear power, at least in waste disposal.

  • Lumping together very separate responses in order to construct some kind of chunky majority to support an argument is always a risky approach as it invites the same approach in opposition. 68% may believe nuclear power has some role in the UK’s energy strategy but 66% believe nuclear power isn’t worth public funding.

    I remember various people attempting to do the same to justify the formation of the coalition with the conservatives, claiming a massive 71% had rejected Labour, thus they had no right to be in power. Unfortunately by the same logic you could say an equally massive 77% had rejected the Lib Dems, giving them an even smaller right to be in power.

  • Simon McGrath 28th Aug '10 - 11:39am

    I wonder whether the answer would have been different if instead of asking about public subsidy you had asked for example ‘ Should nuclear power be funded on same basis as other sources of non CO2 emitting electricity’ ?

  • Andrew Suffield 28th Aug '10 - 12:12pm

    The idea of nuclear power without subsidy is difficult. We cannot have nuclear waste left disposal left to private companies, so government will ALWAYS subsidise nuclear power, at least in waste disposal.

    There is no reason why that cost cannot be recovered from the power companies. The government can simply bill them for the service, and not provide it for free.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 28th Aug '10 - 12:29pm

    Out of interest, were any surveys done on this in pre-election years, back when Huhne told us that nuclear was “a tried, tested and failed technology”?

    It would be nice to compare how Lib Dems felt before they were expected to support nuclear.

  • I voted “Yes, nuclear should be part of the mix as long as there is no public subsidy” in the certain knowledge that private nuclear plants are utterly uneconomic without insurance underwritten by the state – the biggest public subsidy of all. Leaving aside arguments about radioactive waste, terrorist threats and whether nuclear really is ‘green’, a legal private business either stands on its own 2 feet, or it ain’t a viable business – banks included.

  • @green man
    when you say :”a legal private business either stands on its own 2 feet, or it ain’t a viable business – banks included.”
    does that include wind turbines and solar power neither of which could stand on their feet without subsidy

  • I’m in favour of Nuclear power, but it’s inevitably going to require a greater level of state co-operation than other forms of power. There will need to be far higher security, far more stringent oversight of the beginning to end of the process by health and safety and environmental protection, and so on. However, I can’t see a sustainable future without it, and considering the enormous sums being spent subsidising other renewable solutions which cannot replace fossil fuels the expenditure is something I’d rather us make than not.
    @Chris Jenkinson: Perhaps some form of deferred taxation might work? Say the tax rate goes up by 10%, but a company is not required to pay the additional for 5 years. If they haven’t reduced emissions by a set amount by that time, the back taxes come due with immediate effect. That would allow them to spend the money on R&D themselves to get to the required standards, incentivizing an improvement in services rather than them simply passing on the additional costs to the consumer.

  • Anthony Binder 29th Aug '10 - 7:52am

    Well a bad poll with badly formulated questions that just reflects opinions of a statement by one person of course gets bad answers.

    A more interesting poll would reflect energy policies not one mans personal opinions.

    If you kame a poll covering subsidies/non-subsidies and enrgies and timetables I bet the outcome would be differentI am sure you won´t get much support for a ‘Yes – I support nuclear energy ad infinitum’

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