SNP accused of being blinkered by nuclear obsession

Thursday, September 11, 2008

SCOTLAND’S nationalist government was accused of putting political ideology before the country’s energy needs yesterday.

It was claimed ministers had a “short-term, blinkered approach” to energy, driven by the desire to rid Scotland of nuclear power.

Opposition MSPs seized on a document which was presented to the parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee. The paper, an overview of energy policy, states: “The main objective as far as energy is concerned is to progressively increase the generation of renewable and clean energy, to migrate Scotland away from a dependence on nuclear energy.”

Labour energy spokesman Lewis Macdonald accused SNP ministers of being pre-occupied with picking fights with London. “The main objectives of energy policy should surely be to ensure security of supply, tackle fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions, as well as to promote sustainable economic growth,” the Aberdeen MSP said.

“The SNP is alone in the western world in putting its anti-nuclear views ahead of tackling global warming. SNP ministers seem to be more interested in how electricity is generated than in keeping the lights on. The main objective of their energy policy seems to be to pick a fight with Westminster.”

Tory energy spokesman Gavin Brown said ministers were “completely ignorant” of what impact their main energy objective would have on future affordability and security of supply, as well as cutting carbon emissions.

A government spokesman said the energy document provided a context for the action it is taking on a range of energy matters. “Nuclear power is costly and unnecessary, and that’s why we are building a renewables sector to harness our vast green energy potential,” he said.

New underground coal mines could be created in Scotland under plans by officials to secure future energy needs, the committee heard. The SNP administration has been in talks with the Coal Authority to explore a new lease of life for the fossil fuel industry. David Rennie, of the government energy unit, said across the UK there was growing interest in the possibility of new deep mines.

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