A new ICM poll for the BBC, conducted as part of BBC Scotland’s Energy Week, suggests there is wide – but perhaps shallow – opposition to nuclear energy in Scotland. Asked what their perferred method of meeting Scotland’s energy demands is, the majority (52%) of Scots prefer renewable sources such as tidal, solar or wind power, followed by gas on 21%, nuclear on 15% and coal on only 6%. When asked to rank the four potential energy sources, 39% of Scots put nuclear last, behind coal.

33% of Scots say they would support building more nuclear power stations in Scotland with 51% opposed, and those opposed tend to have stronger feelings – only 14% “strongly support” building nuclear power stations while 35% “strongly oppose” it. Opinion doesn’t seem to be firmly entrenched though, when asked if they “support or oppose building new nuclear power stations in Scotland if they helped to avoid us being dependent on energy imported from overseas?”, support increases to 54% and opposition falls to only 34%. People’s gut instincts may oppose nuclear energy but they do seem to be open to argument.

Opinions are far more one-sided when it comes to nuclear waste – only 14% of Scots supported nuclear waste being stored or disposed of in Scotland, with 80% of people opposed.

A report in the Herald tries to wheedle some figures on party political support out of the poll – this is a mistake. As the Herald says ICM’s figures are for party allegiance, not voting intention and while there is an obvious relation between the two figures, they are actually very different things. Specifically the proportion of people who identify with a political party who say they idenfity as Labour party supporters is a far higher figure than the proportion of people who actually vote Labour, as many Labour supporters don’t actually vote or, at the last election, voted Lib Dem. Once you add in those people who do not identify with a political party, but do vote, it becomes impossible to extrapolate voting intentions from questions on party ID.

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