Poll says 51 pct of French favour halt to nuclear energy

PARIS, Jan 28 (AFP) - Fifty-one percent of French people favour a "total halt" to nuclear energy while 39 percent back the country's current energy policies, a public opinion poll said Thursday.

The poll released in the weekly VSD news-magazine said support for an end to nuclear energy was particularly strong among women (56 percent) and people under 35 (61 percent).

The poll came on the heels of public debate triggered by the new German government's decision to phase out nuclear eneregy. Bonn's plan is currently under discussion for a timetable.

Bonn's decision sent tremors across France's nuclear power lobby, which provides 80 percent of the country's energy in comparison with Germany's 30 percent nuclear power.

It came too as France's Greens, in government since 1997 for the first time, called for new debate on the safety and cost-efficiency of nuclear power.

The French government said last week that it would continue to operate France's 57 nuclear power plants but pledged to seek non-nuclear and environmentally-friendly sources of energy as they become obsolete.