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Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 07:18 GMT
Minister in nuclear pledge
Dounreay
Nuclear power is a controversial issue
Energy Minister Brian Wilson has denied that the UK Government would have the final say on any future plans to build nuclear power stations in Scotland.

A row has been developing between Holyrood and Westminster after it emerged London may have the legal power to overrule any decision taken on the issue by MSPs.

New legal advice at Westminster suggests that the Scottish Executive may have the power to deny planning access to any new power station

But Westminster could have the final say because it has an obligation to ensure secure energy supplies for Britain.

Brian Wilson said there was no role for Westminster

The dispute emerged on the day that Britain's two nuclear electricity generators, British Energy and British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), signed a deal to develop a new generation of reactors.

Earlier this month, a UK-wide energy review left open the option of more nuclear power in Britain.

Opposition parties reacted furiously to Scotland Office Minister George Foulkes' comments over the matter.

He told the BBC: "Anyone looking at it logically would think it wouldn't be for a legislature which has powers devolved from Westminster to then thwart the policy of a UK Government on areas which are clearly reserved to Westminster, such as energy and defence.

'Unambiguous position'

"It would look a wee bit daft if, in reserved areas, decisions were being made north of the border which had a very significant impact south of the border."

But Mr Wilson said the position was clear.

He said: "The position is unambiguous. If anyone wants to build a power station of any kind in Scotland, it will be a matter for the Scottish Executive to determine. End of story."

George Foulkes is at the centre of the row

The Scottish National Party claimed UK ministers were seeking to undermine the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Conservatives said it was just more evidence of new Labour squabbling over sovereignty.

However, the executive maintained that the power lay with them.

An executive spokesman said: "Under the Scotland Act, Scottish ministers have been given the power to decide on planning decisions in Scotland, including consents for power stations under the Electricity Act.

"They do so with regard to all relevant considerations including UK legislation and policy, as well as Scottish-specific planning and environmental controls.

"In practice, there will be close consultation between the Scottish Executive and the UK Government on both the development and implementation of policy."

See also:

19 Feb 02 | Scotland
Safety flaws caused nuclear accident
14 Feb 02 | Scotland
Finnie's upbeat message on energy
06 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Nuclear power may rise again
19 Oct 01 | Scotland
Greens stage nuclear protest
03 Sep 01 | Scotland
Nuclear debate fuels speculation
22 Aug 01 | Scotland
Nuclear cover-up claim by SNP
21 Sep 00 | Europe
UN attacks Europe's fuel policies
30 Oct 99 | Scotland
Protesters target power station
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