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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Row over nuclear waste disposal
Dounreay - generic
The SNP claims Scotland could end up with all UK nuclear waste
A war of words has erupted after Jack McConnell claimed Scotland's nuclear waste could be dumped in England as long it remains part of the UK.

The first minister said exporting the radioactive waste to the north west of England was the "most likely" outcome of an official nuclear waste review.

The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland could end up taking all UK waste.

The remarks came as UK, Scottish and Welsh ministers accepted waste burial recommendations.

Mr McConnell made the comments during a lecture in East Lothian on Tuesday evening.

He said: "Nuclear waste is most likely to be placed in the north west of England.

"That is part of the partnership that we have - that we share each other's challenges for the future.

We are not seeking to impose radioactive waste on any community
Ross Finnie MSP
Environment Minister

English Labour MPs have described the remarks as "provocative" and "unhelpful" to the debate.

Ms Sturgeon, the SNP's Holyrood group leader, said: "The real danger for Scotland, and perhaps what Jack McConnell is trying to hide, is not that we can offload our nuclear waste to England, but that Scotland will end up having to take all of the UK's nuclear waste."

The comments came as the recommendations of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) were accepted by the UK Government, the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly.

The committee concluded that Britain should bury its nuclear waste at least 500m below the surface.

However, it said that building a repository could take decades.

Invited to volunteer

David Milliband, the UK environment minister, told the House of Commons that local authorities would be invited to volunteer to have a nuclear dump in their area.

He said those chosen would benefit from multi-million pound investment.

Scotland's Environment Minister Ross Finnie said: "We have made it clear that we are not seeking to impose radioactive waste on any community.

"We are strongly supportive of exploring the concept of voluntarism/partnership arrangements with the local authorities serving communities who might be affected."

Solving the problem should not begin with bribes
Duncan McLaren
Friends of the Earth

He said the "geological disposal" approach will also be adopted in countries such as France, Germany, Japan and the US.

However, the Scottish Greens said ministers should not give the impression that the nuclear waste issue was now resolved.

Chris Ballance, the party's spokesman on nuclear issues, said: "The problem is not solved even if we can find a community willing to accept a deep hole full of nuclear waste nearby.

"The science is not there, it has not been done anywhere in the world and CoRWM say at the most optimistic it would be 40-100 years before such a store may even be possible."

'No solution'

Similarly, the environmental group Friends of the Earth Scotland claimed burying nuclear waste in the ground was "no solution".

Chief executive Duncan McLaren said: "Even if a community were to accept inducements to host a dump, it is vital that each and every affected community is properly consulted.

"After all, an escape of radiation from a transportation accident or from a leaking dump site will not respect artificial town or county boundaries.

"Solving the problem should not begin with bribes, but should instead start with a pledge not to create any more waste."

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