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New nuclear for Scotland- would be a tragic mistake?

SafeEnergy E Journal  No.92. December 21,    New Nuclear in Scotland Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Anas Sarwar, says nuclear power should be part of the mix on energy. He has also called for a statutory “just transition commission” to be established to help workers move out of the oil and gas industry. He said: “I think we have to be honest about future opportunities and I think nuclear power has to be part of the mix. “I’m not saying nuclear power has to be the priority, or the lead. But it has to be part of the mix to have a diverse energy supply.” Sarwar insisted nuclear power could mean lower fuel bills for consumers at a time of rising inflation. 

  In September Sarwar announced plans for a Scottish Energy Transition Commission to outline how Scotland can protect and create highly skilled jobs in the transition to a net-zero economy. The commission will be chaired by pro-nuclear former Labour Energy Minister Brian Wilson. It will support the development of Scottish Labour energy policy and advise on how the transition to netzero can deliver for the working people of Scotland. It will also look at the failures of the current energy market, which has led to spiking prices this winter, the role of public energy companies and Scotland’s energy mix. (2) 

The Bella Caledonia website described Wilson as “a devout nuclear enthusiast”. Sarwar told the BBC that “I think we should consider potential new (nuclear power) plants” (3) and certainly with a nuclear lobbyist chairing this is where they’ll end up. Journalist Dominic Hinde points out: “This is a little odd in that Scotland already meets almost a hundred per cent of its electricity needs from renewables and is set to surpass this. Most emissions now come from heating, agriculture and transport.” (4)  

 Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, called Scottish Labour’s drift towards nuclear power “a tragic mistake”. Nuclear is slow to build, eye-wateringly expensive and dangerous. There is still no agreed solution for nuclear waste, which will need monitoring for many thousands of years. It is neither a solution to short-term energy needs nor to the climate crisis.   

  Dixon said the Scottish Energy Transition Commission is Scottish Labour’s plan to keep the pressure up on the Scottish government’s official Just Transition Commission, and should have been welcome, but giving it to the former ‘Minister for Hunterston’ devalues it. Anas Sarwar was quoted saying he supports a “diverse energy supply”, which is standard union code for more nuclear – and thinks “nuclear is a key part of that and it’s something that I think we should fundamentally explore”. For many years the Scottish Conservative manifesto for every election said we should have two new nuclear power stations in Scotland. It became a running joke because they knew it was never going to happen and they quietly dropped any mention of nuclear a couple of elections ago. The tragedy of Labour finding a new enthusiasm for the ultimate unsustainable form of energy is that it was a Labour First Minister who put a stop to the nuclear industry’s ambitions in Scotland. Jack McConnell, despite massive pressure from Tony Blair’s government, said in 2005 that Scotland would use planning powers to block any proposals for new reactors in Scotland unless there was an answer to the question of permanent storage of radioactive waste, something that is no closer today than it was then. Scottish Labour’s drift into being pro-nuclear will please no-one but the GMB union and Brian Wilson. It is a betrayal of one of their greatest achievements in government in Scotland. (5)

Meanwhile, North Ayrshire Conservative councillor Tom Marshall has called for a new state-of-theart ‘mini’ nuclear reactor to be built at Hunterston. (6) 

According to a Panelbase survey for The Times 37% of Scots asked about the idea of building nuclear power stations in Scotland as fossil-fuel use is cut back expressed support, while only 32% were opposed. When asked if they supported nuclear power to replace energy currently produced by fossil fuels, 57% of respondents felt it was probably or definitely necessary while 26% indicated it was not or probably not necessary. A further 17% were undecided. Liam Kerr, net-zero and energy spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, called on the SNP to abandon its opposition to nuclear energy. (7)   

 Others joining a pro-nuclear clamour include Magnus Linklater who complains that “Without Torness, in a wind-free summer like this year’s, Scotland will have to rely on oil and gas courtesy of Vladimir Putin, imports from Norway or — irony of ironies — nuclear power from France.” (8) 

And Lord Bird, co-founder of The Big Issue, has somehow got the misconceived idea that nuclear power can help to solve fuel poverty. Brian Wilson, the former UK energy minister, has supported his call. (9)  

Unsurprisingly, the GMB union is also demanding the Scottish Government thinks again on nuclear power. (10)
 See 1 page briefing on why nuclear power isn’t a solution to climate change here:

November 27, 2021 - Posted by | politics, UK

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