More people in UK are likely to oppose building new nuclear power plants than last year in the aftermath of the Japanese crisis, according to a Friends of the Earth survey poll.

Following the radiation leak from a Japanese nuclear plant, caused by the earthquake that struck the country earlier this month, 37% are now more likely to oppose building nuclear plants.

In November 2009, about 19% were against nuclear power while 47% favoured it.

Now, only about 16% say they are likely to support new nuclear builds.

Still, 35% either strongly or slightly support a programme to replace the UK’s existing reactors, with 28% either strongly or slightly opposed to it.

Friends of the Earth UK director of policy and campaigns Craig Bennett said that the poll shows that the government’s plans for a major expansion of nuclear power in the UK are out of step with public opinion.

“People want clean and safe energy. The government needs to urgently refocus its energy policy, starting by improving the weak energy saving measures within its new Energy Bill,” Bennett said.

The EU plans to reduce its emissions by 80% to 95% from 1990 levels by 2050 and the UK, among other countries, sees nuclear energy as an important component in achieving the low carbon goal.