Nuclear power in Scotland is an issue that’s not going to go quietly.
On the face of it, the Scottish Government has made things pretty clear. In its new green revolution, it wants to get electricity from renewable sources, such as wind or wave and not from uranium, that while cleaner than, say, coal, is still a fossil fuel.
After 2023, when both Hunterston B in Ayrshire and Torness in East Lothian will close, there are no plans to build any more nuclear plants.
In the last edition of Holyrood, Stewart Stevenson MSP, the Environment and Climate Change Minister, was adamant about nuclear power’s future, “the bottom line is, we don’t need it” and the SNP has insisted that future renewable sources are enough as it aims to achieve 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity use from renewable sources by 2020.
That is why the most recent energy announcement was seized on by opposition MSPs because the new national electricity contract has gone to the French firm EDF energy.
The deal, which will save £40m over three years, will see energy going to councils, hospitals, schools and other buildings across 99 per cent of the public sector.
EDF is an investor in renewables research and development at four Scottish universities, has 208 MW of consented and installed renewable energy sources in Scotland and plans to have an additional 638 MW.
But it is also the owner of Torness and Hunterston and for some, particularly the Tories, this has tarnished the SNP’s ‘no-nuclear’ image. Gavin Brown, the Scottish Conservative finance spokesman, even went as far as calling it a “U-turn” on nuclear power.