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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Darling gives nuclear assurance
Hunterston B nuclear power station in Ayrshire
Hunterston B nuclear power station in Ayrshire is due to close by 2011
Scottish ministers will have the final say on whether to build more nuclear power plants in Scotland, the Secretary of State for Industry has said.

Alistair Darling outlined the UK Government's energy review on Tuesday and said planning was a devolved issue.

Mr Darling said nuclear power stations could make a "significant contribution" to meeting "energy policy goals".

In its submission to the review, the Scottish Executive promoted Scotland's role in developing green energy.

The prime minister ordered the energy review last November to decide how the UK would meet its targets for fighting global warming and ensuring energy security.

Outlining the energy review, Mr Darling also said: ""Far from getting rid of the renewables obligation, as some have proposed, we intend to increase it from 15% to 20%."

Alistair Darling
We recognise Scottish ministers get to decide whether or not to give consent to any large plant, nuclear or otherwise
Alistair Darling
Secretary of State for Industry

Mr Darling said no nuclear power stations could be built in Scotland without the executive's consent.

He said: "Of course we recognise in Scotland planning is devolved and Scottish ministers also get to decide whether or not to give consent to any large plant, nuclear or otherwise."

Scotland's two nuclear power stations, Hunterston B, in Ayrshire, and Torness, East Lothian, are earmarked for closure by 2011 and 2022 respectively.

Mr Darling called for a "grown-up debate" on the country's energy requirements and said developments had been hamstrung in the past by local planning objectors.

Oil and gas

"I think the important thing for people to focus on is the two big problems we've got: one is the need to tackle climate change, we cannot go on pumping carbon into the atmosphere," he said.

"Secondly is in relation to security of supply. We've largely been dependent on North Sea oil and gas for the last 30 years.

"While it's still plentiful, we will become increasingly dependent on importing oil and gas, so those are the two big challenges and we have to make sure we've got the right mix."

Mr Darling said the energy review would make a strong case for renewable energy sources like the 49-turbine wind farm being built at Braes of Doune, near Dunblane, which will generate enough electricity for 55,000 homes.

Scotland may yet be saddled with the white elephant of more unsafe and unnecessary nuclear power
Duncan McLaren
FoE Scotland

Scottish Green Party nuclear spokesman Chris Ballance said it was "absurd" to suggest nuclear power should be included in a balanced energy mix.

He said: "There's nothing balanced in expanding nuclear energy and leaving the clean-up bill for future generations.

"Greens and others - including the government's own Sustainable Development Commission - have thoroughly assessed nuclear power and have concluded that the industry has offered no genuine case that can be taken seriously."

Climate change

Mr Ballance said the prime minister should be assessing the best way of reducing global tensions and taking the most effective route to tackling climate change.

"Trident and a new generation of nuclear reactors will do neither," the MSP added.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland said the review must make Scotland and the rest of the UK "world leaders" in developing a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy.

The group said the UK could meet its energy needs without building more nuclear power stations.

Blacklaw Wind Farm
There are calls to utilise Scotland's renewable energy potential

FoE Scotland chief executive Duncan McLaren said: "Despite the first minister's apparent opposition, Scotland may yet be saddled with the white elephant of more unsafe and unnecessary nuclear power.

"It's hard to see any reprieve lasting beyond the next election unless the Scottish Executive locks-in future support for renewables and energy saving, with tougher targets and a planning system that enables public participation.

"This must include provisions for debating any objections against nuclear facilities on grounds of need at a full public inquiry."

CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan welcomed the review and said it recognised the need for swift action to ensure the UK was able to meet its future energy demands.

'Not enough money'

"Ministers are correct to include both nuclear and renewable power in their thinking," he said.

"In exercising their powers of planning consent in Scotland, Scottish ministers must not discriminate against any form of energy provision, including nuclear."

Dr Richard Dixon, of WWF Scotland, said the government's promises to do more to maximise energy efficiency and renewables were "not credible".

"These promises are not credible because there is not enough money, engineering talent or political will to deliver on both nuclear and clean energy," he said.

Dr Dixon described nuclear power as "a costly red herring".

Maf Smith, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said the government clearly understood that renewable energy was clean, affordable and secure.

"Our experience in Scotland shows us that renewables can deliver on government targets, provided that the planning system is fit for purpose, and we have an electricity network fit for the 21st Century," he added.

RSPB Scotland however warned that renewables must be developed in such a way that they do not damage the environment they are seeking to protect.

It singled out the scheme for Europe's biggest onshore windfarm on the Lewis Pentlands where some 209 turbines - 140 metres high - are proposed for the Barvas Moor.

The group also said that green energy other than onshore windfarms must be looked at.




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