Dorothy Seed (left), Head of Communications, Corporate Affairs, BNFL, says that growing public understanding of the impending energy crisis has reduced hostility to nuclear power
It is a memory that still remains with me. As our holiday flight prepared for take-off I heard a loud voice from a few rows behind. “I work for Public Enemy Number One”.
A few seconds pause, as fellow travellers like me assumed the very vocal passenger was about to refer to the Inland Revenue. But no, it turned out he worked for the nuclear industry and was just expressing his own feelings about working in an industry that nobody liked or trusted.
That was back in the 1980s when the UK nuclear industry was going through a very difficult time. Company press officers were inundated on an almost daily basis with negative stories at national and local level and they were permanently on the defensive.
There was also another side to public attitudes, perhaps best summed up by a comment I received from a member of the public visiting a nuclear exhibition stand in North West England. “Nuclear power, that’s a thing of the future isn’t it?” The fact that, even in those days, nuclear energy was contributing more than one fifth of the UK’s electricity supplies was generally not widely known.