Climate fears drive support for nuclear energy

17th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — Two thirds of the Dutch public support the suggestion floated by Cabinet ministers this week that the only operating nuclear power plant in the Netherlands should be kept open.

17 February 2005

AMSTERDAM — Two thirds of the Dutch public support the suggestion floated by Cabinet ministers this week that the only operating nuclear power plant in the Netherlands should be kept open.

Just under a quarter of the 600 people who took part in the internet-based survey run by pollster Maurice de Hond backed closing the plant in 2013 as planned.

The Netherlands has in recent years being working towards a nuclear-free policy. The centre-right coalition government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende agreed in 2003 that the Borssele nuclear plant would be shut down in 2013.

But the opinion poll found strong support for keeping it open. Sixty-five percent of the respondents said it should remain open, with 23 percent against. Another 12 percent had no opinion.

Support for keeping Borssele open was strongest among people who vote for the main government parties, Balkenende's Christian Democrat CDA and the Liberal VVD of Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm.

Supporters of the smaller Democrat D66, the smallest government party, were more split on the issue, with 36 percent in favour of keeping Borssele open and 41 percent against.

There was a slight majority (47 percent) among people who voted for the Labour PvdA in the January 2003 election for keeping the plant operational. Forty-two percent of the party's supporters want it to close in 2013.

A similar poll in 2002 found 56 percent of all Dutch residents in favour of keeping Borssele open, compared with the latest survey's figure of 65 percent, NOS News reported.

The poll this week also shows growing, but more fractured support for building new nuclear power stations in the Netherlands.

The opinions on nuclear energy in the latest poll have to be seen in light of the other questions asked by the survey that indicted 90 percent of the public is worried about climate change caused by greenhouse gas pollution.

Asked if a natural disaster would hit the world between now and 2100 that would kill a billion people, 31 percent of the respondents said yes, though only 7 percent said the disaster would be caused by a meteorite.

On the day the Kyoto Protocol came into affect, 86 percent of the people who took part in the poll said global warming was a real danger. Just over 60 percent said there was a serious risk that parts of the west of the Netherlands would be totally flooded by the sea between 2030 and 2050.

Sixty percent said the Netherlands would stick to its commitment under the Kyoto agreement to keep CO2 emissions below the 1990 level between 2008 and 2012.

Signalling an about-face in government energy policy, Foreign Minister Ben Bot gave a speech on Tuesday in which he called for an open mind on nuclear power.

He said dependency on energy from risk areas such as the Middle East posed a threat to Europe. A "complacent and careless" Europe also threatened to miss the boat now that China and India were reporting economic growth which could soon see them overtake Europe.

"I am not saying that we must build new nuclear power stations, but we must continue investigations into nuclear energy. Solar and wind energy will not be sufficient," he said.

Environment State Secretary Pieter van Geel later spoke out against the planned closure of Borssele, saying the hundreds of millions of euros needed to shut the plant could be better used to stimulate the production of sustainable energy.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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