British Science Association

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The British Science Association (BSA), founded in York in 1831 as the British Association for the Advancement of Science and rebranded in 2009, is a charity established under Royal Charter, which 'exists to advance the public understanding, accessibility and accountability of the sciences and engineering in the UK.' It is formerly known as the BA, and is governed by a Council which forms the Board of Trustees.

Nuclear coverage

Polling on public attitudes to nuclear power

Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.

In August 2011 the BSA commissioned polling company Populus to survey British attitudes on nuclear power six months after the tsunami and magnitude 9 earthquake-induced Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Japan.[1] The poll unexpectedly found that support for nuclear power in the UK had increased. Over 40 per cent of respondents said they believed the benefits of nuclear outweighed the risks, up from 38 per cent in 2010 and 32 per cent in 2005. Men were twice as likely as women to be in favour of nuclear.[2] [3]

In a comment piece about the poll, Nick Pidgeon, professor of applied psychology at Cardiff University, pointed out however that,

Globally, the picture is rather different. An Ipsos poll carried out after Fukushima found that global support for nuclear energy has dropped from 54 per cent to 38 per cent, fuelled by a 26 per cent jump in new opponents to nuclear power who say that Fukushima caused their decision. Particularly high levels of opposition were found in both Germany and Japan.
Globally, only 31 per cent support new nuclear build. This average hides big differences between countries, with only 11 per cent of Brazilians supporting compared with 52 per cent of Poles. In Britain, the figure is 43 per cent.
Research shows that people will be more accepting of nuclear power if they trust the people in charge. One component of that trust is how they perceive these people’s communication. The same Ipsos poll found that, globally, 54 per cent of people assessed Japanese officials’ and institutions’ communications to be honest and 56 per cent assessed them as timely. However, in Japan itself, only 28 per cent agreed that communications were honest and only 23 per cent that they were timely.

Pidgeon concluded: The events at Fukushima show us that, with any highly complex hazardous technology, accidents can always happen – something the sociologist Charles Perrow many years ago called a ‘Normal Accident’. While the impacts of the Tsunami have been a tragedy for the people of Japan, this should not deter us from drawing the right lessons from the Fukushima disaster. It would be a mistake to approach community engagement without acknowledging that some profound lessons have to be learned - including that this technology remains very dangerous.[4]


In September 2013 the BSA's Physics and Astronomy section organised a free panel discussion entitled, 'Fukushima two years on: The real story'. Those attending, it claimed, would be able to 'find out the facts about the Fukushima incident in 2011 and implications on the future of energy generation.'

The incident at Fukushima following the tsunami of March 2011 left behind it a trail of confusion and misinformation. Two years on, we now have the benefit of hindsight to evaluate exactly what happened and bring to you the real story of Fukushima.
The programme:
15:30 Talk: The nuclear physics of Fukushima
Participants: Paddy Regan
16:00 Talk: Radiation and risk at Fukushima
Participants: Steven Judge
16:30 Talk: Concerns and lessons learned from Fukushima
Participants: Paul Dorfman
17:00 Questions and Answers: Discussion / questions
Participants: Paul Dorfman, Paddy Regan, Steven Judge

Another event in January 2013 at 'Dunbar SciFest 2012' focused on the 'Uses and abuses of nuclear energy', with a talk by Professor Paul Leonard BSc (Hons), CRadP, MSRP, C. Biol., FSB., CSci., C MarSci., FI MarEST, FLS, a former nuclear site inspector with first-hand experience also of managing the UK’s Chernobyl sampling and the 2011 nuclear accident at Fukushima. [5]



Details, Resources and Notes

Company details

The British Science Association is registered with the Charity Commission (number 212479) and with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (number SC039236).

It is managed by professional staff, with around 30 people at Head Office (Wellcome Wolfson Building, 165 Queen's Gate, South Kensington) and four regional staff across the UK. The 16 scientific sections of the British Science Association, which contribute primarily to the annual British Science Festival, are run by committed volunteers. So too are the 30 or so branches, which organise events and activities locally across the UK.[9]


165 Queen's Gate
London SW7 5HD
Tel: +44 870 770 7101


  1. British Science Association, "British attitudes to nuclear power," Populus website, Sep 2013, accessed 11 Oct 2013. Based on interviews with 2,050 GB adults online between 26th and 29th August 2011.
  2. Matt McGrath, "9 September 2011 UK nuclear support 'rises after Fukushima'," BBC World Service, 9 Sep 2011, accessed 11 Oct 2013.
  3. British Science Association, "Nuclear Fallout?," Web Archive of 20 Dec 2011, accessed 18 Oct 2013.
  4. Nick Pidgeon, "Learning the lessons of Fukushima," BSA website, undated article, accessed 11 Oct 2013.
  5. British Science Association, Uses and abuses of nuclear energy, Thursday, 17 Jan 2013 - 20:15 to 21:45.
  6. British Science Association, Media advice, accessed 18 Oct 2013.
  7. British Science Association, Media contacts and networking, accessed 18 Oct 2013.
  8. Arcadia, British Science Association, accessed 18 Oct 2013.
  9. British Science Association, About Us, accessed 11 Oct 2013.