Key Points:

Nearly one in five New Zealanders appear to believe nuclear power is a viable energy source, even though politicians have put it off limits.

Nineteen percent of 3546 polled in a New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development internet survey said nuclear power was the best electricity option for the next 10 years.

Wind power topped the poll as the preferred source of electricity generation, with 77 percent. In September, a Colmar Brunton poll found 36 percent believed the Government should consider developing nuclear power stations, 60 percent said "no" and 4 percent didn't know.

At the time Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were environmental and economic arguments against it.

New Zealand did not have the scale for nuclear power production, and had so many sources of renewable energy there was no point looking at it, she said.

Other concerns related to the problems of waste and fears nuclear material from power stations could be enriched to create nuclear weapons.

Business council chief executive Peter Neilson said he was surprised by the number of New Zealanders voting in favour of nuclear power.

"I would have thought that if you had done this survey 10 years ago, you would be lucky to get three or four per cent in favour of nuclear power," Mr Neilson said.

He said attitudes in New Zealand had changed since the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island disasters.

"People think the safety question is not as pressing but there is still the question of waste and decommissioning at the end of the life of a plant and also the proliferation of weapons grade uranium," Mr Neilson said.

Mr Neilson said the country's anti-nuclear stance made up a large part of the national identity and despite 19 per cent of respondents being in favour of a nuclear, over 80 per cent were still opposed.

"You wouldn't run for election on nuclear power," Mr Neilson said.

He said respondents were asked if they would still be in favour of wind if a wind farm was close to their house but the same question was not asked about the location of nuclear power plants.

The council is a business advocacy group which lobbies on sustainable development issues.

It has 71 member companies, including BP Oil, Mighty River Power, Resene and The Warehouse.

The survey was conducted over six weeks in February and March.

Greenpeace said uranium resources were predicted to expire in 60 years, so nuclear was one of the least sustainable power options available.

- NZPA