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Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Nuclear cover-up claim by SNP
Chapelcross
Chapelcross is one nuclear plant in Scotland
The Scottish National Party has accused First Minister Henry McLeish of engineering a cover-up over the expansion of nuclear power north of the Border.

John Swinney, SNP leader, said Mr McLeish had misled MSPs about a high-powered nuclear review.

He said the executive had not been represented on a group set up by the UK Government to review energy policy.

John Swinney
John Swinney: "We were misled"
And Mr Swinney concluded that it was evidence Scotland was not being consulted over the expansion of nuclear power.

In the exchanges on 28 June, Mr Swinney sought and failed to win a commitment from Mr McLeish on what the executive's stance was over nuclear power stations.

On Wednesday the nationalist leader said the first minister's credibility "had been shot to pieces" over the non-representation of the executive on the Energy Project Advisory Group.

Representing Scotland

He said: "This a huge policy and political decision with the potential to site more nuclear power stations in Scotland and it's a decision I believe should be taken here in Scotland by an elected Scottish Parliament."

"I want ministers from the Scottish Executive, who are answerable to the Scottish Parliament, to represent Scotland's interests and I don't want that to be done by ministers who take their orders from London and follow a London agenda.


Based on this evidence, I can only assume that the first minister has misled parliament

John Swinney, SNP leader
"The first minister explicitly stated that 'Scotland's interests will be taken care of by the involvement of the Scottish Executive' which would be 'intimately involved' in the energy review project."

Mr Swinney added: "I was shocked to learn that the Scottish Executive was excluded from the very first meeting of the review group.

"Based on this evidence, I can only assume that the first minister has misled parliament."

But the first minister's official spokesman, Peter McMahon, denied suggestions Mr McLeish had misled the parliament.

Devolved issues

"When John Swinney asked a question on this in June, the first minister said that we should be talking about devolved issues rather than SNP political opportunism over a very serious subject

"That was his view then and remains his view now. There was never any suggestion that the Scottish Executive would have a presence on the Energy Project Advisory Group."

However, Mr McMahon stressed that Scottish interests were represented by the Scotland Office and the executive was in close contact with the advisory group.

He added: "On top of that, the executive does have devolved responsibilities for environmental issues relating to nuclear power and for planning."

See also:

13 Jul 01 | Scotland
MP given nuclear plant assurance
08 Jul 01 | Scotland
Nuclear plant accident probed
21 Sep 00 | Europe
UN attacks Europe's fuel policies
30 Oct 99 | Scotland
Protesters target power station
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