Two new surveys show that attitudes toward nuclear power have become increasingly positive. At Pyhäjoki, the opinion is that people appreciate open discussion on the project and the nuclear industry.

In December 2017, Fennovoima commissioned the ninth opinion poll in Pyhäjoki and the neighboring municipalities. According to the survey carried out by the research company Norstat, 75 per cent of Pyhäjoki residents and 71.9 per cent of residents of the neighboring region support the Hanhikivi 1 project. The support jumped considerably from the previous year, as there was an increase of 7.6 percentage points in Pyhäjoki and 9.9 percentage points in the whole region. The result was also a positive surprise to regional communications manager Heli Haikola, who has worked at the Pyhäjoki office since the beginning. 

– This was of course impressive. The result not only indicates that the impacts of the project are visible, but also shows that we have done the right things and should continue in the same manner. This is by no means a self-evident matter, Haikola says.

Fennovoima’s project became known to the residents of the municipality in the summer 2007 and in the next spring, an office was opened in the center of Pyhäjoki. The office has since become an established part of the main street. A lot of discussions have taken place at the office over the years concerning the project and its impacts. The discussions have not remained inside the office, but events and meetings have been arranged around the region and Northern Finland. 

– People living in the region have wanted to get information on both the project and nuclear power in general from the beginning. The subjects of interest have varied, and we have always strived to serve and to get answers. I’m from Pyhäjoki myself, and if I did not work at Fennovoima, I would most likely be asking the same questions, Haikola says.

News about the headquarter move made the phone ring

Haikola believes that there are many reasons for the growing support, but she finds the main reason to be the impact on employment, in addition to the company's local presence. At the moment, most of the contractors and employees working at the Hanhikivi 1 construction site come from the vicinity of Pyhäjoki.

The effects are also visible outside the construction site. New residential areas are being planned, services are being developed and there are many projects both in the planning phase and under construction.

– The fact that nearly everyone living in the region already knows someone who works in the Hanhikivi headland, as well as the possibilities of having a look at the site have also decreased the mystery about a nuclear power plant construction site and made the project more familiar to people, Haikola says.

The move of Fennovoima s headquarters to Pyhäjoki, which received a lot of news coverage in December, also received a lot of attention among the residents of the municipality.

– Even though the transfer of personnel has been clear to us from the beginning and we have also openly talked about it, the news about the headquarters was a big thing. It made the project more concrete to the residents by one more step, and the phone was ringing for several days after it was on the news, Haikola says.

Presence in the region will definitely not be decreased. The latest poll results also bring new energy to one s own work, according to Haikola.
– People s opinions matter and we will continue to work hard, but with a smile.

Finnish Energy: The support for additional construction also increased

Finns’ views on nuclear power and the construction of additional nuclear power are also changing to a positive direction nationwide.  According to the latest opinion poll by the Finnish Energy organization, 45 per cent of Finns believe that nuclear power is an environmentally friendly way of generating electricity. At the same time, 30 per cent of the respondents had the opposite view. In a similar poll a year ago in December, 40 per cent of the respondents had a positive view on nuclear power and 38 per cent had a negative view.

Compared with earlier polls by Finnish Energy, the attitude of Finns to additional construction of nuclear power has also become clearly more positive, even though opinions are still strongly divided in this matter. In the poll of December 2017, 37 per cent of the respondents supported and 29 per cent opposed additional construction, while a year earlier, the situation was the opposite: 36 per cent were against and 30 per cent in favor. Importing electricity (+7 percentage points) and increasing wind power (+6 percentage points) received more support in last December’s poll than earlier.

The opinion poll carried out in December was a part of Finnish Energy’s follow-up study on attitudes toward energy in Finland. The series of studies has monitored the attitude of Finnish people to questions concerning energy policy for more than 30 years.