Nuclear energy plan threatens new border war
Further diversion of UK and Scottish energy policy will follow Westminster’s plan for the biggest expansion of the nuclear sector in 70 years.
A new large scale nuclear plant on a similar scale to the £30bn plants now being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset and planned for Sizewell in Suffolk would quadruple supplies by 2050.
Industry sources have identified Wylfa in Anglesey or Moorside in Cumbria as potential sites.
Nuclear power currently provides about 15% of the UK’s electricity but many of the country’s ageing reactors are due to be decommissioned over the next decade.
The government claims the additional capacity would lower bills and improve energy security and that Its £300m nuclear fuel programme will reduce reliance on overseas energy supplies.
About £300 million will also be invested in developing the form of uranium fuel required to power high-technology new nuclear reactors, which at present is produced commercially only in Russia. The first production facility is scheduled to open in northwest England in the early 2030s.
The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) has called for the projects to be speeded up. Consultations for Sizewell alone took 10 years and building work there is yet to start, because of ongoing protests.
By introducing smarter regulation the government believes s it will be able to deliver new nuclear power plants faster.
Tom Greatrex, CEO of the Nuclear Industry Association, welcomed the publication of the roadmap and streamlined regulation but said the UK needed to develop both large and small nuclear generation “at scale and at pace”.
The SNP-Greens government has resisted calls to drop its opposition to nuclear power despite an agreement by 22 countries at the COP28 summit to triple the world’s output of nuclear power by 2050.
More governments are accepting nuclear as part of the green energy agenda, but the government in Scotland continues to oppose plans for nuclear plants north of the border.
The US, France and the UK are among the countries that have signed the declaration to raise nuclear production by the middle of the century.
Scottish Greens climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell says that doubling down on nuclear energy is not the solution to the climate crisis.
He said: “Nuclear energy is costly, dangerous and out of date. It’s no kind of solution, and will leave a long and toxic legacy for generations to come. The UK experience of Hinkley Point underlines all of these problems, with delay after delay and ever-ballooning costs.
“The climate emergency is happening all around us. We simply don’t have time to waste on overpriced and dirty solutions like nuclear energy.”
West Aberdeenshire Tory MP Andrew Bowie, who is the minister for nuclear power at Westminster, claimed that continued resistance to nuclear by the Scottish Government is an “act of economic vandalism”.
UK Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho added to that sentiment by saying the Scottish Government’s opposition to new nuclear power stations is “plain wrong”.