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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006, 18:49 GMT
Labour to discuss nuclear options
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The Scottish Labour Party is to consider nuclear power options
The Scottish Labour Party is planning to review its stance on the building of new nuclear power stations as part of an internal consultation.

Holyrood's Labour/Lib Dem coalition has until now said it would not accept the construction of any new plants until the issue of waste was solved.

Labour's decision to look into the issue prompted speculation that the first minister was poised for a u-turn.

But the party insisted there was no presumption for or against nuclear.

The move comes amid widespread speculation that Prime Minister Tony Blair will back new nuclear power stations as a solution to energy shortages.

'Party row'

The Scottish Labour Party's consultation will help form the basis of the party's 2007 Holyrood election manifesto.

The Sunday Herald newspaper suggested that the review would pave the way for Scottish Labour to remove its opposition to new nuclear power stations being built in Scotland.

Bristow Muldoon MSP, the chair of Labour's Scottish policy forum, said the party would bring forward its election manifesto in 2007 after a long and thorough consultation.

Rather than dancing to Tony Blair's pro-nuclear tune, we need to show some backbone
Richard Lochhead MSP

"It is right that nuclear is discussed as part of an energy mix," he said.

"What our opponents cannot stomach is that we want a grown up discussion about it."

But Scottish National Party energy spokesman Richard Lochhead MSP said the exercise showed the party could be poised for a u-turn.

He said: "Just as Blair's review in London is nothing more than a rallying call for nuclear, Jack McConnell's exercise will be no more than a rubber stamping exercise for Westminster's decision.

"Rather than dancing to Tony Blair's pro-nuclear tune, we need to show some backbone and develop Scottish solutions to Scottish problems."

Scottish Socialist Party national convenor Colin Fox MSP said the first minister had been "whipped into line" over nuclear power by Westminster.

'Environmental enemies'

"Scots will be horrified at the idea of nuclear power being seriously considered as an option by Labour," he said.

"Nuclear power has the potential to inflict catastrophe and produces waste that we still do not know how to deal with.

"New Labour are showing themselves to be the enemies of the environmental movement."

The Scottish Greens said they welcomed Labour's "apparent commitment" to a mature debate, and called for Labour to bring forward a debate on nuclear power in the Scottish Parliament.

Green MSP Chris Ballance said myths surrounding nuclear power needed to be quashed.

"It is still uneconomic, dangerous, it will not tackle climate change, and the waste is not going to magic itself away anywhere fast," he said.

Scottish Labour's coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, said they would remain opposed to new nuclear power stations in Scotland whatever Labour decided.

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