Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 09:09 UK

Governments fall out over nuclear

Hunterston will not be re-commissioned by the Scottish Government
Hunterston will not be re-commissioned by the Scottish Government

Battlelines have been drawn between the UK and Scottish governments over nuclear power.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his ministers have gathered in Glasgow for the cabinet's first meeting in Scotland for almost 90 years.

Energy secretary Ed Miliband told BBC Radio Scotland the Scottish Government's opposition to new nuclear power stations in Scotland was wrong.

But First Minister Alex Salmond said renewable energy was the way forward.

Mr Miliband said: "I disagree with the position the Scottish Executive have taken on this.

"I don't think it's good for Scotland.

"There's a huge number of jobs - it's 9,000 jobs per nuclear power station with huge benefits for the economy.

"Hunterston B will be decommissioned in the middle of the next decade - the decisions made by the Scottish Government mean that site will not be renewed.

"I think that's a shame for Scotland in industrial terms and I don't think it's the right decision for the United Kingdom in energy terms, but it does remain a decision for Scotland."

'Actual jobs'

But Mr Salmond said: "As opposed to talking about nuclear jobs which might be years away from construction, decades away from production, in the last few weeks in Scotland we have announced 500 offshore wind jobs in construction.

"These are actual jobs which are being created now in technologies which are being deployed now and technologies where Scotland has a huge substantial, natural advantage as opposed to nuclear technologies where Scotland has no advantage whatsoever."

On Wednesday, two south of Scotland MPs hit out at the Scottish Government's refusal to approve new nuclear plants being built.

Labour's Russell Brown and Tory David Mundell said it could cost jobs in Dumfries and Galloway where a station was being decommissioned.

Liberal Democrat Energy spokesperson Liam McArthur said Mr Miliband should take a lesson from Scotland's drive to boost renewable energy, rather than visiting an "ageing nuclear power plant".

The UK Government has released a list of 11 sites in England and Wales where new plants could be built including three in Cumbria, just south of the border between Scotland and England.

The sites were nominated by the companies EDF, E.On and RWE, and by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) which owns the sites of the UK's older generation of Magnox reactors, many of which have ceased operating.

The NDA is currently auctioning land on these sites, with EDF and E.On among the bidders.

By 2018, the Magnox fleet and most of the newer advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) will have come out of service, leaving the UK with just four operational nuclear stations.

Reasons why companies have nominated sites with existing nuclear capacity include the presence of grid connections and a community used to living with nuclear stations and the employment they provide.

In Anglesey, where the existing Wylfa station is scheduled to close next year, the council is actively lobbying for a replacement.

But in Oldbury in South Gloucestershire, a survey two years ago showed a majority of people wanted the site returned to nature rather than used for new generation capacity.

The two proposed locations that were not involved in the Magnox or AGR programmes are Kirksanton and Braystones, both close to Sellafield in Cumbria, which has the longest nuclear history of any UK community.

Many environmental groups remain unconvinced that the UK needs a nuclear renaissance.

Map of nominated power stations



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