SNP'S NUCLEAR WAR OF WORDS; Energy Debate: The Hunterston B Nuclear Power Station Is Due to Shut Down in 2016 ? the Big Question: Do We Want Nuclear Power?
Byline: Stuart Nicolson
ALEX Salmond and Gordon Brown were last night at war over Scotland'sfuture energy supply.
The Prime Minister yesterday gave the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclearpower stations over the next ten years to help stave off a looming energycrisis.
But the First Minister and the SNP sparked a cross-Border row by again refusingto allow any of them to be built in Scotland.
Mr Brown insisted it was in the 'national interest' to approve the stations,adding: 'We want Britain to be more secure in its energy supply.' But the SNPsays Scotland already produces more than 90 per cent of its own energy needsfrom non-nuclear sources. Scottish ministers claim supply can be provided byexpanding renewable sources such as wind, wave and hydro - without the need fornuclear power.
But they were last night accused of a political 'stunt' amid warnings theirhard-line stance could leave a dangerous energy gap and lead to 'the lightsgoing out'.
The row followed the announcement by Westminster Business Secretary JohnHutton, who told MPs yesterday that energy companies were being asked to comeforward with plans for new nuclear facilities.
These could, theoretically, be in Scotland, as energy policy remains reservedto London. But Holyrood and Mr Salmond's administration implacably against thenuclear option, there is no chance of any being built north of the Border.Instead, they will be constructed on the sites of some existing stations inEngland. The announcement sparked claims that costs will force electricitybills across the UK to rise by up to [pounds sterling]250 a year - which Scots will still haveto pay. Mr Hutton used his Commons statement to attack the SNP for ruling outnuclear power. 'I think it is a mistake that Scottish ministers are making,' hesaid. 'I believe it is more to do with making a political stunt than taking aresponsible, long-term decision in the best interests of either Scottishelectricity consumers or the wider UK perspective and I regret that. 'I believeScottish ministers will come to regret that decision too.'
Business leaders also attacked the Scotland will regret this nuclear powerstunt, warns Labour Nationalists for refusing even to consider nuclear energyas an option. Iain McMillan, director of the CBI in Scotland, said: 'Thedevolved administration is right to highlight the potential of renewables butthey are wrong to rule out new, low-carbon nuclear Energy debate: TheHunterston B nuclear power station is due to shut down in 2016 'Energy gap ideais just nonsense' energy capacity in Scotland in the future.
'The devolved administration should enter into a proper dialogue with businessand industry in Scotland on how our future energy needs will be met securelyand economically, rather than what appears to be an out-of-hand dismissal ofwhat is currently around a third of existing generating capacity north of theBorder. …