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Swinney’s opposition to new nuclear power is ‘anti-science’, says trade body

The last operating nuclear power plant in Scotland, at Torness in East Lothian, is due to shut down in 2028 (Danny Lawson/PA)
The last operating nuclear power plant in Scotland, at Torness in East Lothian, is due to shut down in 2028 (Danny Lawson/PA)

John Swinney’s opposition to nuclear power is “anti-science”, the trade body representing the civil nuclear industry has said.

The Nuclear Industry Association said the First Minister’s stance is “hopelessly ideological” and will cost billions in investment.

The SNP has a longstanding opposition to nuclear power, with Mr Swinney recently telling MSPs he is “not a fan of the nuclear industry”.

He also hit out at suggestions from the Scottish Secretary that there could be a small nuclear reactor in Scotland in the future.

Mr Swinney said Alister Jack’s comments were “menacing” and that his Government instead supports investment in “the renewable energy potential in Scotland”.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, told The Herald: “The First Minister’s views on nuclear are hopelessly ideological and anti-science.

“United Nations analysis says nuclear is green, with the lowest carbon footprint, land use and ecosystem impact of any electricity technology.

“The facts show that Scotland’s nuclear power stations have saved more carbon by far than any other source in the nation’s history, and still today the industry provides high-quality, skilled jobs to some of the most deprived communities in Scotland.

“Every serious scientist, commentator and country recognises that we need both renewables and nuclear together to hit net zero.

“That is why the Scottish Government should drop the ban on new nuclear power, and let our nuclear communities have new stations, new investment and new hope.

“The First Minister will cost Scotland billions in investment and thousands of good jobs for our young people if he instead sets his face against reality.”

The GMB Scotland union is also calling on the Scottish Government to end its opposition to new nuclear power.

The last operating nuclear power plant in Scotland, at Torness in East Lothian, is due to shut down in 2028.

General Election campaign 2024
First Minister John Swinney said he would prefer investment in renewable energy (Jane Barlow/PA)

A Scottish Government spokesman told the newspaper: “New nuclear power is expensive, will take years to become operational and involves significant environmental concerns.

“Our energy strategy and just transition plan will set out how we support nuclear energy workers to take advantage of the enormous opportunities offered by Scotland’s transition to a clean and renewable energy supply.

“Driving growth in renewables, hydrogen energy, and carbon capture and storage will deliver clean, affordable energy for everyone in Scotland.

“This will also support green jobs for the future, with independent analysis showing that low-carbon and renewable energy could support nearly 80,000 jobs in Scotland by 2050.”