Energy push

SNP urged to drop opposition to nuclear power

Rolls-Royce small modular reactor
Small modular reactors are proposed south of the border

SNP ministers have been urged to drop their opposition to new nuclear plants which are proposed south of the border as part of the UK’s new energy mix.

West Aberdeenshire Tory MP Andrew Bowie, who is the minister for nuclear power at Westminster, will today claim that continued resistance to nuclear by the Scottish Government is an “act of economic vandalism”.

He will take part in a Holy­rood event that will indicate a growing split between London and Edinburgh.

Ahead of the event, Mr Bowie told The Times: “Nuclear is on the cusp of a major revival. There are opportunities for the people and businesses of Scotland.

“To unlock nuclear full potential we must have an industry that is competitive and works together as one, across our whole United Kingdom.”

There are plans to build nuclear plants in England and Wales as part of a process of securing energy security, but the Scottish government has said it will use planning laws to block any being built north of the border.

Neil Gray, the Wellbeing Economy and Energy Secretary, said Mr Bowie’s plans as not a “serious or sensible way to conduct the debate on Scotland’s energy future”.

He added: “Neither does it demonstrate a grown-up attitude to inter­governmental relations between Westminster and Holyrood.

“As well as the many environmental and economic concerns over nuclear, the worst thing we could do would be to derail Scotland’s journey to net zero, which is under way by capitalising on our renewables, hydrogen and carbon-capture resources and potential.”

Torness in East Lothian is the only nuclear plant still operating in Scotland but it is expected to close by 2028, although ministers are open to extending its life cycle if conditions can be met.

An opinion poll for Britain Remade found that 55% of Scots would support new nuclear if it helped the country reach net zero targets.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “Significant growth in renewables, hydrogen and carbon-capture storage provide the best pathway to net zero by 2045, and will deliver a climate-friendly energy system that delivers affordable, resilient and clean energy supplies for Scotland.

“The Scottish government does not support the building of new nuclear fission power stations in Scotland under current technologies. New nuclear power is expensive and will take years, if not decades, to become operational and has significant environmental concerns.

“Through our draft energy strategy and just transition plan we have set out a clear pathway to deliver on global commitments and capitalise on the enormous opportunities offered by becoming a net zero economy.”

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