New antinuclear Scottish government

16 May 2007

SCOTLAND is set for an antinuclear future with today's election of Alex Salmond, of the left-wing Scottish National Party (SNP), as first minister.

The 47-strong SNP are to form a minority government in the Scottish Parliament through a cooperation agreement with the Scottish Green Party, which returned two members in the Scottish general election on 3 May.

The cooperation agreement, published last Friday, which is less rigid than a coalition agreement, contains three main points - opposing new nuclear plants, tackling climate change and extending the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

After his election as first minister, Salmond said Scotland is ready for reform, as a small nation with a big future. “I look forward to working with the Scottish Green Party, and indeed other parties, to build a more successful Scotland by putting vital issues such as tackling climate change at the heart of our agenda to take Scotland forward,” he said.

Scottish Green Party co-convenor Robin Harper said the foundations for progressive new politics in Scotland had been laid by agreement that included blocking nuclear power.

Greenpeace said the move could rule out at a stroke three of the main sites identified for the next generation of UK nuclear power plants. The pressure group said Scotland could take advantage of its substantial wind and wave power opportunities without the “huge costs and dangers inherent in nuclear power”.

Proponents of nuclear power had hoped that Scotland's nuclear sites, Torness in East Lothian, Hunterston in Ayrshire, and Chaplecross in Dumfries and Galloway, might feature in a new build programme. The Dounreay nuclear site in the far north of Scotland was also pushed by trade unionists as a possible new build site, despite its distance from major demand for electricity.

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