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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Mather attacks energy white paper
Overhead power lines
Mr Mather said Scotland should be able to export power
The Scottish energy minister Jim Mather has attacked the UK government over its recent white paper on the future of Britain's electricity supplies.

He told MSPs that Scotland did not want or need any new nuclear power stations.

Mr Mather went on to assure parliament that he was doing everything possible to reverse BP's decision to pull out of a carbon capture project in Peterhead.

His comments came in a statement at Holyrood responding to the UK Energy White Paper.

Mr Mather said the paper failed on many counts.

While welcoming plans to combat climate change, he described the promise of new nuclear power stations as the "hole in the middle".

If an application were to be submitted for a new nuclear power station that will be for Scottish ministers to determine
Jim Mather
Energy minister

"If an application were to be submitted for a new nuclear power station that will be for Scottish ministers to determine," Mr Mather said.

"We would be obliged to look at it - but given our policy position, our generating capacity, our multiplicity of energy sources and our strong alternative strategies such an application would be unlikely to find favour with this administration."

Mr Mather claimed the paper underplayed the potential of other energy options, and went as far to say that resources are so abundant the country should be planning to export electricity.

He criticised the energy regulator Ofgem's approach to transmission charges which worked against this.

Mr Mather said First Minister Alex Salmond was working to get a project for the world's first full-scale carbon capture power plant back on track.

He said Mr Salmond had appealed directly to Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling to intervene.

Peterhead power station
BP have pulled out of the Peterhead carbon capture project

Oil giant BP shelved plans to build the plant at Peterhead, saying it can no longer wait for a government decision.

Mr Mather said: "The first minister has spoken and written to Alistair Darling pressing for a change in UK government position.

"I very much hope that he will respond to the constructive ideas we have put to him."

Mr Darling has insisted that government spending on this scale required a competition to see which carbon capture scheme is worthy of support.

But Mr Mather claimed the government had "fallen at the first hurdle" by letting the project be scrapped as a result of its slow response.

Mr Mather came under pressure from MSPs over his party's attitude towards onshore wind farms, amid claims it wants to halt many schemes.

Labour's Iain Gray asked whether the Nationalists still planned to cap the number, while Lib Dem Liam McArthur said the SNP wanted a one-year moratorium and questioned when this would come into effect.

The minister denied this was the case.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Alistair Darling sets out the UK Government position



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