A nuclear industry professional claims that worry over nuclear disasters can cause more health problems than the accidents.

More than 30 years after the Chernobyl nuclear explosion, and almost six years after Japan's Fukushima disaster, psychologist Reuben Holmes delivered a lecture on the psychological impact of such events.

The 1986 Chernobyl explosion in particular had a direct impact in Cumbria after it sent a cloud of radiation across much of the UK. Officials were testing some Cumbria for radiation until as recently as 2012.

The Government introduced strict controls and testing stop the food chain becoming contaminated, covering thousands of sheep across the county.

But in his lecture last week, Mr Holmes said that studies suggest that radiation at low to moderate levels has negligible effect on health.

Yet people still fear radiation.

In a statement from the University, the psychologist said it was becoming more and more apparent that the worry of being subjected to radiation can sometimes cause more health problems than the exposure.

Mr Holmes, of the National Nuclear Laboratory, explored how and why careful consideration should be given to communicating information about radiation to avoid psychosocial consequences that often end up causing more harm to human health than the radiation itself.

He also talked about the work that is being done in the UK following the valuable lessons learned from Fukushima.

He said: “It is important that we learn how to put exposure to man-made radiation in perspective with the natural background radiation that we are all subjected to every day. This will help society better deal with the anxiety and distress caused by our fear of radiation.”

In April 1986, a power surge at Chernobyl's reactor No.4 led to the world’s worst nuclear accident, killing 31 people. In the following days a huge radioactive cloud drifted across parts of the UK,distributing poisonous caesium-137 over England, Wales and the south and west of Scotland.Anti-nuclear campaigners have long argued that the risks associated with nuclear energy production are too great to justify building new reactors.

Mr Holmes delivered his lecture as the future of a planned multi-billion-pound nuclear power development at Moorside in West Cumbrian, near to Sellafied, was thrown into doubt.

A spokesman for Toshiba - which holds a 60 per cent stake in Moorside developer NuGen, alongside ENGIE of France – said this week that it is now re-examining its nuclear projects outside Japan, including the proposed nuclear new build at Moorside.

Last month Toshiba announced its US subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric, may have overpaid - by several billion dollars - for another nuclear construction and services business. Following this, its shares fell dramatically.

Toshiba confirmed yesterday it is now reviewing its involvement in all other overseas projects as a way of dealing with this situation.