Nuclear route does Scotland no favours

As we limp towards a general election later this year, energy policy will feature high on the political agenda. Sadly, though, it looks as if one aspect of that debate will escape serious scrutiny due to a cosy consensus between the main parties at Westminster. Nuclear power.

Earlier this week Parliament debated the government’s recently published civil nuclear roadmap. This hare-brained scheme sets out an ambition to quadruple the current 5.9 gigawatts of nuclear energy production by 2050. Sadly, not only does the Labour party support this Conservative plan, it accuses the government of dragging its feet on implementation, suggesting that if anything a Starmer administration will accelerate the nuclear programme.

It’s crazy that this 20th century technology still commands such widespread political support in the UK. A quick recap. Nuclear power is – by far – the most expensive way of generating electricity ever devised by mankind. Contrary to claims it is not a renewable energy source. It is fuelled by uranium ore of which there is approximately 90 years supply left, less if programmes expand. Most of this is in Kazakhstan so it hardly qualifies as a secure energy source.

Moreover, it produces toxic waste which has to be kept isolated from human beings for generations. The new roadmap by the way suggests a new form of reactor which will produce twice as much waste and has no credible plan to safeguard it.

You can only spend a pound once – and if the government spends billions on nuclear that investment will be siphoned off renewable energy development. The craziest part of Labour’s plan is to argue for a further windfall tax on oil and gas in order to subsidise new nuclear plants in England. Don’t get me wrong, corporations should pay fair taxes, especially on excess profits. But of all the things you might spend that revenue on, subsidising nuclear power must surely be the worst.

If this continues, our children will look back mid-century and wonder why we didn’t make use of the phenomenal natural energy resources from sun, sea and air. We can stop this nonsense by the simple measure of putting Scotland’s energy policy in the hands of the people who live here. Another reason why Scotland should be an independent country.