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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
'No showdown' over nuclear power
Torness power station
Torness is expected to run for at least another 10 years
The UK Government has played down suggestions of a showdown between Westminster and Holyrood over the generation of nuclear power.

First Minister Alex Salmond has said there was "no chance" of any more being nuclear plants being built in Scotland.

However, a UK Government's white paper includes nuclear power as part of a mix of energy sources, alongside energy-saving measures across the UK.

The SNP, Liberal Democrats and Greens are opposed to nuclear new-build.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling outlined his plans for the future of Britain's energy.

Alongside the energy white paper Mr Darling launched a new consultation on the principle of including nuclear power as part of Britain's energy mix.

He told the House of Commons that a decision on nuclear power would have to be taken this year.

He said that the consultation period would run until October after which there would have to be a decision on whether the UK should build new nuclear power stations.

The government was forced to re-run the consultation process after anti-nuclear campaigners Greenpeace won a High Court ruling which said that the previous consultation had been "seriously flawed".

There is already something approaching a deal on the table
Political editor
Brian Taylor

Earlier, Mr Darling told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that the devolution settlement allowed Scotland to decide on its energy needs.

He said: "The Scottish Executive has the planning authority, it also has the right to veto connections to the grid - so they have always had that double lock.

"Nothing has changed in that respect."

He said that more than a third of Scotland's electricity came from the Torness and Hunterston nuclear stations.

"Torness has got probably another 10 to 20 years life in it, so there is going to be nuclear power in Scotland for the foreseeable future," he said.

He warned that blanket opposition to nuclear power and to windfarms was not an answer to meeting future energy needs.

"Given the problems we face with climate change, given the fact that we cannot go on belching carbon into the atmosphere, given the fact that we are going to become more dependent on importing gas from countries like Russia and the Middle East, we have to have a sensible mix of generation," he said.

Although energy policy is not devolved, Scottish ministers have control of the planning system and also have to give consent under the Electricity Act to the construction of new power stations above a certain size.

Labour in power in Scotland favoured keeping nuclear as part of the energy mix.

How nuclear power works

But Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: "There is no need for confrontation between Holyrood and Westminster here - just different opinions and options being taken by two governments acting within their competencies.

"In Scotland we are awash with renewable resources and we will aim to take advantage of them.

"The rest of the UK can do the same but it is a shame there appears to be a willingness in Westminster to cling to the dirty technology of the past."

Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen said: "Directing government investment away from wind, wave and tidal power into nuclear would fatally damage Scotland's opportunity to become the renewables power house of Europe.

"Nuclear power has a history of hidden costs and is fraught with potential dangers."

Scottish Energy Secretary John Swinney said he agreed with Mr Darling on the need for more energy efficiency and the development of renewable power sources.

'Exciting developments'

However he told BBC Radio Scotland: "The Scottish government has made its position very, very clear, that we will not support the development of new nuclear power stations."

He said it was "more likely" any new nuclear power stations would be sited in the south of England.

He added: "I think there's a number of very interesting proposals coming forward in Scotland about how we can develop low carbon energy sources for our power stations.

"I think we're on the cusp of some very exciting developments in Scotland."

Friends of the Earth Scotland, said Scotland has the capacity to be self-sufficient from renewables and that new nuclear reactors were not needed to tackle climate change.

Energy efficiency

Chief Executive, Duncan McLaren, said: "Instead of wasting any more time and money on trying to revive polluting nuclear power, the government should be pushing ahead with measures to improve energy efficiency and tap into the whole range of renewable energy resources available to us."

As well looking for an increase in renewable energy, Alistair Darling's energy white paper includes measures to encourage householders and businesses to save power.

The government want power companies to increase their efforts to promote energy efficiency measures for their customers, and they are calling for businesses such as banks and supermarkets to trade carbon emmissions.

Alistair Darling sets out the UK Government position


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