Scottish government rejects new nuclear

10 October 2007

Scottish ministers have rejected new nuclear power stations in their response to the UK consultation on nuclear power.

New plants were described as “dangerous and unnecessary” by the Scottish government, which previously opted out of the separate Westminster consultation pursuing deep disposal of nuclear waste.

Energy minister Jim Mather wants the money that could be spent on nuclear power reallocated to make Scotland, and the UK, world leaders in renewable technology.

The Scottish government can veto any new nuclear plants through its right to refuse consent for onshore power stations over 50MW under the Electricity Act 1989.

The Scottish submission to the UK government consultation says Scotland already produces more energy than it consumes, and new technologies are “far more secure” than relying on finite imported uranium resources.

The submission also says renewable generation produces less carbon emissions than nuclear power, and that having no new nuclear power removes the need for transportation and disposal of nuclear waste – and the potential terrorist threats involved.

It says the costs of new nuclear power stations are likely to be significantly higher than UK government estimates.

Mather said: "We already have clean, green and reliable alternatives. Scotland has massive renewables potential, as well as significant opportunities for clean fossil fuel technologies and carbon storage. Harnessing that potential can meet our future energy demands several times over, while tackling climate change.

"Scotland already has the skills and leadership to pursue a clean, low-carbon approach. A vibrant and growing energy sector will make a significant contribution to Scotland's prosperity through investment and jobs.

"Perversely, spending billions of pounds to develop nuclear power station could have a huge impact on the research and development of long-term clean energy alternatives. Instead, I want to see investment directed towards the development of green energy technologies in Scotland to give Scotland and the UK a world lead.”

Mather said it is important that future generations do not have to bear the burden of toxic radioactive waste.

He went on to hit out at the UK government’s position, saying: "The UK government has already made its mind to develop new nuclear power stations without properly considering the alternatives, or even allowing the public to consider the alternatives as part of this consultation.

"I believe that our position has the clear support of the majority of MSPs and public opinion. The UK government now needs to accept the weight of evidence and abandon its disastrously short-sighted and unwanted proposals."

The right to refuse consent for new nuclear plants was reinforced by the Scottish Parliament in March 2002, when a majority voted for a motion reiterating that Scottish ministers accountable to parliament keep the right to refuse nuclear power stations, now and in the future.




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