The Scottish Government’s determination to resist pressure from Westminster to build two nuclear reactors has been boosted by an independent report.
International think tank The Centre for International Governance Innovation backed the Scottish National Party’s position that more sustainable alternatives should be sought.
The UK Government last week revealed 11 proposed locations for new nuclear power stations. While the announcement was described by the construction industry as a “sign of progress”, the Scottish National Party remained defiant that no nuclear new builds would take place north of the border.
Energy secretary Ed Miliband called on Scottish government ministers to rethink their stance on the issue. He said the construction of two new atomic plants north of the border would create 9,000 construction jobs and pump £5.6 billion into the Scottish economy.
But in a report entitled The British Nuclear Industry: Status and Prospects, the CIGI warned that a stronger focus on sustainable energy alternatives would be better and more cost-effective than new nuclear capacity.
Report author Ian Davis – former executive director of the British American Security Information Council – said: “The Government’s obsession with nuclear power is undermining and marginalizing more efficient and safer technologies - the real energy solutions.
“A much more prudent path would see a stronger focus on delivering more sustainable methods of generating electricity and on absolute reductions in UK energy demand, along the lines of what is being proposed in Scotland.”
The cross-border row began raging after SNP ministers vowed to use their control over planning applications to block any new plants in Scotland.
In its 2007 election manifesto, the SNP stated: “An SNP government will not give the go-ahead for new nuclear power stations. We will invest instead in developing Scotland’s extensive renewable energy potential.”
The UK proposals form part of the Government’s plan to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to help close what has been described as a “generation gap” expected as existing nuclear and coal-fired stations shutdown.
The Nuclear Industry Association described the announcement as a “sign of progress” for the Government’s ambitious new build programme.
The list of potential locations is: Dungeness in Kent; Sizewell in Suffolk; Hartlepool in Cleveland; Heysham in Lancashire; Sellafield in Cumbria; Braystones in Cumbria; Kirksanton in Cumbria; Wylfa Peninsula in Anglesey; Oldbury in Gloucestershire; Hinkley Point in Somerset and Bradwell in Essex.
The sites were nominated by the energy giants EDF, E.ON and RWE and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which owns some nuclear sites, and have been initially approved by the Government.
The Government wants to build about 10 plants over a 15-year period at a cost of about £30 billion. Site-specific licensing is expected to begin in 2011, with work to start on the plants from 2013. Each reactor will take at least five years to build.