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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Nuclear waste burials ruled out
Nuclear power station
The SNP government has refused to play a part in geological disposal
The Scottish government has broken ranks with Westminster after ruling out the deep burial of nuclear waste.

A consultation on the move, recommended by an expert advisory panel, has been taken forward by UK ministers.

But the SNP administration said it would play no part in it or any future work on "geological disposal".

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said the stance had been taken as a matter of principle and was supported by public opinion in Scotland.

"We do not accept that it is right to seek to bury nuclear waste, which will remain active for thousands of years, in a deep geological facility or to expect any community to host such a facility," said Mr Lochhead, whose government is opposed to nuclear power.

We want to make sure that people have a chance to have their say at every stage in the process
Ian Pearson MP
UK environment minister

"This out-of-sight, out-of-mind policy should not extend to Scotland."

The UK consultation exercise on the way in which a site would be chosen for long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste came after the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management last year recommended geological disposal as a way of handling it.

Westminster Environment Minister Ian Pearson insisted that the site selection process had not yet begun, adding: "We need to decide how a site for the geological disposal facility is chosen.

"As we do that, we want to make sure that people have a chance to have their say at every stage in the process."

UK ministers claimed that the proposed disposal facility would be a high-technology multi-billion pound project that would bring investment and jobs for generations.

In Scotland, the current policy for waste is to support long-term "near surface, near site" storage so that waste can be monitored and retrieved, while minimising the need to transport it over long distances.

This position was backed by Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie, who said: "On top of the costs, dangers, risks and a failure to truly tackle climate change - nuclear power creates waste that is not going to be magicked away."

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of environmental group Friends of the Earth Scotland, added: "We are concerned that the UK Government consultation is a sham to facilitate an unsustainable and unethical programme of new nuclear power stations."


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