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[cdn-nucl-l] New nuclear power station for Scotland
Another positive message! (Outside the US. We're still trying to destroy the
industry with Yucca Mountain.) :-(
Regards, Jim Muckerheide
Sun 11 Jul 2004
New nuclear power station for Scotland
MURDO MACLEOD and EDDIE BARNES
IN A major U-turn on energy policy, Scotland is in line to have a new
nuclear power station built in order make sure that Britain can reduce its
output of greenhouse gases without Californian-style massive power cuts.
The two front-runners for the new stations are the current nuclear power
station sites of Hunterston in Ayrshire and Chapelcross, at Annan, in
Dumfries and Galloway, with Torness in East Lothian as the outsider.
The move has come in the wake of Tony Blair admitting to MPs that Britain is
likely to need a new generation of nuclear power stations in order to meet
the challenge of climate change.
Previous energy policy had targeted renewables such as wind farms to make up
the shortfall in supply caused by the need to reduce harmful carbon dioxide
The move could result in a clash between Labour ministers in the south who
see no alternative to a nuclear programme, and the Scottish Executive
Labour-Lib-Dem coalition whose Liberal Democrat ministers have threatened to
veto planning permission for new nuclear power stations.
A senior nuclear industry source last night confirmed that Scotland was set
to have a nuclear power station built, but that the location was still to be
He said: "It's a toss-up between a new unit at Hunterston or one at
Chapelcross, with Torness being an outsider, but still having a chance."
"Hunterston and Chapelcross both have their good points, but it is still to
be decided which it will be. The final decision will be for the government,
although they will take our recommendations into account."
The source said that the government could not hope to meet ambitious targets
to reduce the nation's output of polluting gases such as carbon dioxide, the
main gas which is linked to global warming.
The move marks a major rethink by ministers. Last year's Energy White Paper
in February 2003 came down firmly in favour of energy efficiency and
renewables being given priority as the best option for Britain's future.
Nuclear energy was not ruled out forever but put on hold for at least five
Blair last week signalled to the Commons that the government believed it had
no option but to commission a new generation of nuclear power stations.
Blair said the evidence was now overwhelming that climate change was the
biggest long-term problem facing the country, and conceded the world was
nowhere near finding a mechanism to cut carbon dioxide emissions by the
government's target of 60% by 2050.
Over the next 20 years, all but one of the UK's 16 nuclear power stations
will close, leaving the British energy market looking to find a substitute
for the 23% of the country's electricity which is generated by nuclear
power. Scotland relies even more on atomic power, with a third of power
north of the Border being nuclear generated.
In Scotland the Chapelcross power station was closed last week and the
Hunterston B plant will close in 2011. The Torness station will close by
The main advantage of the Hunterston site is its closeness to a deep-water
port, meaning it has a readily available supply of water for cooling.
Chapelcross is better situated to be able to supply power to England when
Brian Wilson, the former energy minister, said: "I very much welcome Tony
Blair's comments and it might well be a significant landmark in the whole
debate. My view is that this issues will have to re-visited sooner rather
"If we are going to keep the emphasis on carbon reduction then this is the
only reliable source of carbon free energy that we have. Over the next few
years, thinking environmentalists would start to recognise that fact."
Wilson, who is also an enthusiastic backer of wind energy, said: "It is very
silly to think renewables can fill the gap. I am pro-renewables but the
worst thing we can do is to exaggerate what they can deliver."
Bill Tynan, the chairman of the House of Commons all-party group on the
nuclear industry last night welcomed the signals that a new station would be
built north of the Border, and said that he believed Hunterston was the best
option for the new plant.
Tynan said: "Scotland needs a new nuclear power station.
We face becoming increasingly reliant on imported energy which comes from
countries which are not always very stable."
But the Labour MP warned that the biggest hurdle the power station may face
may be Scotland's Labour-Lib Dem coalition executive. The anti-nuclear
Liberal Democrats have threatened to use their position in the Executive to
veto any planning permission for new nuclear plants.
And the Scottish Green Party reacted with fury to the suggestion that
Scotland was in line for a new nuclear plant.
A spokesman said: "It is a stupid idea. The answer is renewables and a focus
on saving energy. It is utterly illogical to try and substitute one kind of
pollution for another. Nuclear power is hugely expensive in addition to
being environmentally disastrous."
A spokesman for the Nuclear Industry Association said: "The existing
stations have been looked at (for future development). You would not want to
be building a new station on a green field site. There is enough land on the
existing sites to expand. There is also a degree of local support in these
areas because they are employers."
A Scottish Executive spokesman said that nuclear power was a reserved matter
and each planning application would be decided on its own merits.