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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 12:08 GMT
Nuclear waste dumping fear
Nuclear fuel flasks
The nuclear industry produces tonnes of spent waste
Scotland must have control over the dumping and production of nuclear waste in order to protect public safety, an MSP has told Holyrood.

Roseanna Cunningham, environment spokesman for the SNP, has spoken of her worries that nuclear waste policies have had no proper input from Scotland.

The future of the UK energy industry is currently under scrutiny.

But Deputy Environment Minister Allan Wilson said Scotland was involved in the long-term future of nuclear waste.

Ms Cunningham said there are discussions taking place at a European level affecting nuclear waste management.

Yet she claimed Scotland is not being consulted, adding: "We may end up having waste schlepped across land and sea to a few as yet undisclosed burial sites."

Ms Cunningham voiced concern over the development of deep geological disposal sites, "secret" dumping grounds, the transportation of radioactive waste and the building of new nuclear power stations.

She added: "If nuclear waste is not disposed of properly, it can pose serious dangers to the environment and indeed the public."

Ms Cunningham insisted Scotland must ensure its own safety by monitoring radioactive discharges through the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and giving ministers control over the disposal of nuclear waste in Scotland.

The truth is we need to think long and hard about how we are going to keep the lights on and generate enough electricity for industry
Alex Johnstone
Tory MSP
She said: "While it is clear that Scotland has to dispose of its own waste, we must have assurances that this will not lead to our country being used as a dumping ground for the rest of the UK which is why the Scottish Executive must produce statutory guidance for Sepa which is long overdue."

Mr Wilson said Scotland was already involved in the long-term future of nuclear waste management.

He said that through the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste (CoRWM) - which is currently considering the disposal of long-lived radioactive waste in the UK - Scotland politicians were working with UK ministers and other devolved parties to find "publicly acceptable solutions".

'Energy crisis'

CoRWM was set up by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Margaret Beckett, along with environment ministers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Wilson said it was inappropriate for him to pre-empt the conclusions of CoRWM but insisted that Scottish ministers and officials had been involved from day one in influencing the future management of nuclear waste.

He said Sepa was likely to implement appropriate policy changes when CoRWM concludes.

Tory environment spokesman Alex Johnstone, list MSP for North East Scotland, backed the executive approach to nuclear waste management but criticised ministers for failing to face up to a looming "energy crisis".

He said Scotland needed to find fresh means of generating electricity without producing carbon dioxide emissions and suggested backing nuclear power is "vital" in meeting future energy needs.

Mr Johnstone said: "The truth is we need to think long and hard about how we are going to keep the lights on and generate enough electricity for industry."

He added that the technical advances in the handling and disposal of nuclear waste meant the industry was a viable option for producing future power.

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23 Jun 03  |  Scotland

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