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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Scotland 'may not need nuclear'
power station
Mr McConnell wants the nuclear waste issue to be cleaned up
Scotland may not need new nuclear power stations if it achieves a big increase in green energy, according to First Minister Jack McConnell.

He made the claim under fresh pressure to declare his views on the issue.

Mr McConnell repeated his long-standing line that there could be no new nuclear stations until the issue of waste was resolved.

SNP deputy leader and Holyrood group leader Nicola Sturgeon accused him of "sitting on the fence".

Mr McConnell made the comments during First Minister's Questions.

He argued that even if there were to be no new nuclear stations, there would still be waste from existing sites.

Mr McConnell said: "I suspect we have the capacity in Scotland to deliver the energy needs that we have from a massive increase in renewable sources."

Nuclear stations

He added: "Given the importance of energy supplies for domestic households and businesses in Scotland, it would be silly of us at this stage to forever rule out any option."

There are no current applications for new nuclear stations.

Ms Sturgeon was challenged to say whether SNP plans for independence meant that waste stored in north-west England would have to be returned to Scotland.

She said Nicol Stephen, the deputy first minister, had said "categorically" that no new nuclear stations were needed.

Ms Sturgeon said: "What possible reason can there be for him [Mr McConnell] not giving a very clear view on new nuclear stations?"

Ms Sturgeon said the final recommendations of an expert committee on radioactive waste management were published two months ago.

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