By Bob Duncan

The Scottish National Party has expressed concern that the UK Government’s draft Energy Bill due to be published today (Tuesday) will include subsidies to fund new nuclear power stations at the expense of the renewables industry.

The SNP claims that the energy policy of the Westminster government in now “in tatters” as it has emerged that UK ministers are intending to subsidise nuclear energy through massive increases in domestic energy bills.


The UK government has written to the European Commission stating that it intends to reclassify nuclear power as a quasi-renewable source of  energy, describing it as “low-carbon energy”, in a bid to find the industry through public subsidy.

This subsidy would made be at the expense of true renewable energy, creating great uncertainty in the renewables market and creating barriers to the Scottish Government's highly ambitious renewables targets.  The SG is on target to achieve their 100% renewable energy equivalent by 2020.

The Westminster policy is completely out of step with other European governments, such as those of France and Germany, which are moving away from nuclear power towards renewable sources of electricity.  This process has speeded up since the disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan.

The SNP Government in Scotland has already refused to sanction the building of any new nuclear power plants north of the border, and intends to close all of the existing nuclear stations once they reach the end of their useful life.

While renewable energy generation is continuing to fall in price, the cost of building new nuclear power stations is increasing rapidly. Nuclear energy is set to become the most expensive form of electrical power generation, by a wide margin.

Two companies, E.on and RWE have recently pulled out of the bid to build a new generation of nuclear power stations in England.  The move comes as the predicted costs to build each station has risen from 10 to 14 billion. Both companies cited the escalating cost, and the long lead time necessary before a profit can be generated.

It has also been suggested that the French construction company EDF is planning to pull out of the bid.  This would mean that there would not be a single contender to build the new nuclear stations.

In addition, energy experts have estimated that, if these plans were to be brought to fruition, the subsidies needed would cause domestic heating and energy bills to increase to 2 or even 3 times their current level.

Commenting on the bill, SNP Westminster Energy and Climate Change spokesperson Mike Weir MP said:

“The Energy Bill offers a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on Scotland’s second-to-none renewable potential. It would be a massive betrayal if any money is diverted from this to subsidise the discredited, dangerous and expensive nuclear power industry.

“We have already had E.on and RWE withdraw from new nuclear power in the UK, recognising it was too expensive and takes too long to generate a return.

“Predicted costs for the proposed new stations have already risen from £9 to £14 billion. That’s not to mention the spiralling costs of decommissioning old stations.

“Instead of pulling out the stops to rig the market in favour of nuclear power, the UK Government should recognise, like Germany has, that nuclear power is simply not the answer to our energy needs.

“The fact that E.on has decided instead to invest heavily in new offshore renewable energy eloquently demonstrates that the future lies in renewable energy to provide a clean green future and true energy security.

“The renewables energy is creating jobs and attracting investment across Scotland, already directly supporting over 11,000 jobs.

“The SNP Scottish Government has led the way by rejecting nuclear and setting a 100 per cent renewable target for Scotland's own electricity use.

“The UK government should now follow this lead and abandon plans for expensive and unsustainable nuclear expansion.”

The SNP Government has insists that Scotland has enormous potential for the generation of renewable energy and that its exploitation will help to create so many new jobs that it will in effect, “re-industrialise” the Scottish nation.


# cjmjr 2012-05-22 07:29
Westminster the only goverment going down the Nuclear route, they simply can't see the wood for the trees.The costs of building them are naught when compared to decommissioning them and the risks while they are running.
# hiorta 2012-05-22 07:45
Is there also an undercurrent of thinking that anything Scotland does has to be manipulated to be seen as inferior?
# Wee-Scamp 2012-05-22 07:48
Scotland should not be footing the bill to pay for English nuclear power stations.

Another argument in favour of independence perhaps.
# border reiver 2012-05-22 08:01
MOD to announce tomorrow the go ahead for a £350 million contract to design a repalcement for Trident nuclear submarines.
Th emoney should be spent on th shovel ready projects in Scotland, more importantly where are they going to keep them post independence?
# jafurn 2012-05-22 09:44
Quoting border reiver:
The money should be spent on the shovel ready projects in Scotland, more importantly where are they going to keep them post independence?

A great question.
# jafurn 2012-05-22 09:43
An interesting angle on the nuclear / non-nuclear debate..

"Only renewables - not nuclear - could be too cheap to meter Germany's long support for wind and solar energy is delivering zero-cost electricity at times. In contrast, the UK's new energy policy seeks to underwrite the rising cost of nuclear"
# xyz 2012-05-22 11:54
Very interesting article
# dundie 2012-05-22 21:34
Sense from the Grauniad? Not something they have displayed much of previously.
# alexb 2012-05-22 09:45
I see it,s now being reported that the Chinese are about to step in and take the place of the French in building these nuclear power stations.
# Wee-Scamp 2012-05-22 10:59
Who is reporting this? Got a link?
# Marga B 2012-05-22 13:12
The Chinese? Thought it was only broke countries like Greece and the third world that let the Chinese into their energy infrastructures .

The UK has a choice. They don't.
# xyz 2012-05-22 09:58
Westminster really is pernicious. They are trying foist nuclear power on the people at huge cost when there is a cheaper green alternative.

They'd rather damage Scotland's renewables success than do what is best for UK tax payers.
# J Wil 2012-05-22 10:40
The UK energy minister (a LibDem MP) is looking increasingly unconvincing and uncomfortable when arguing his energy policy.

The nuclear option, or lack of it, goes back to the prevarication of the Labour goverment. The energy deficit is another legacy of the Union.

Thank goodness Scotland can rely on renewables.

I thought I heard yesterday that Westminster plan to extend the lives of existing Nuclear stations until the energy gap is filled. I hope they have done their risk assessments thoroughly, but it seems anything goes if their back is to the wall and they are running out of options.
# mealer 2012-05-22 10:59
Westminster should scrap trident and spend the money instead on a SAFE renewable energy programme for England and Wales.We're already cracking on with our own.And after independence,we can really get motoring with the task of harnessing our vast renewable resource for the benefit of the people of Scotland.
# Briggs 2012-05-22 15:10
The UK government doesn't govern for the peoples of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. It's in power to further the interests of Arms merchants and the Nuclear power lobbyists.
They are always going to do this no matter what complexion they are.

Move clear of a democratic system that is failing Scotland and every one else in these Islands.

We in Scotland have a choice .........Vote 'Yes' for Independence in Autumn 2014.
# Jim Johnston 2012-05-22 16:34
I wonder how far up the anti-Indepencence case this nonsense will be?

Roll on 2014.
# J Wil 2012-05-22 23:01
Listening to the discussion on the TV tonight, the nuclear deal on offer sounds like PFI all over again. The proposal is to offer the companies building the stations a guaranteed profit, paid for out of the pockets of consumers. It will also divert investment money away from renewables.

Interesting to see that Newsnight could not oersuade any politicians onto the programme to discuss the subject. They were also tiurned down by the Colin Boyd last night, who had just given an interview to Scotland Tonight.
# jafurn 2012-05-22 23:42
O / T
I thought Mr Canavan was excellent on Scotland tonight and would think he would be an excellent counterbalance on the debate on Sunday.
As for Mr Galloway ..,,,
try this...

Stewart Maxwell ‏@Maxwellsnp
A worker in Bradford has the same problems as a worker in Berlin so does George Galloway support unification with Germany? #scotnight


George Galloway ‏@georgegallowa y
I hope the great Egyptian people vote for the great Egyptian Dr Abol-Foutoh for President today. Long live the Egyptian revolution!

What about Scotland George?
# .Scot 2012-05-23 06:03
The cancellation of London's future energy security by the French publicly owned Energie de France has been claimed by me (and many others) on numerous previous occasions. The huge liability of building & running Britain's many nuclear reactors does not carry a great enough profit margin to cover the great dangers without the stanchion of Germany's two major (Ex-UK nationally owned) power companies.

The ridiculous situation of fuel poor London desperately depending upon a Nationalised foreign power company to provide its future energy security because it's own greedy politicians sold our publicly owned 12 Electricity Boards for a quick profit has exposed the farce of venture capitalist, market driven government.

So too, is the absurdity of London Unionist politicians (Secretly) reclassifying dirty dangerous, secretive & unaffordable nuclear power in order to (secretly) increase the inveiglement of the French government to embroil itself in a risk strategy to maintain the phony London-Hypercity illusion.

So too is the unspoken intentions of the Unionist governments which still intend to place up to four of London's nuclear energy plants on Scottish soil. Only six new plants are planned for England whilst the program calls for ten new deadly nuclear power plants in the UK. Where are we supposed to imagine they are going?

Britain's nuclear inspectorate conveniently has less than half the staff it requires through plan rather than accident, the rest of the world ends or freezes it nuclear ambitions. Yet, Broken & bankrupt Britain lumbers on full tilt into it's own Chernobyl/Fukushima in order to save overheated London from greater fuel poverty.
# Aucheorn 2012-05-23 07:22

Talking of fuel poverty allow me to highlight this petition about a Fuel Duty Regulator.
# BillCo 2012-05-23 09:42
This should be the big issue in the upcoming referendum debate. Scotland's renewable energy potential is arguably as big as the offshore oil potential back in 1970.

Westminster is desperate to rule the roost over the development of our green energy, but they have now shot themselves in the foot big time with this course of action.

It is imperative that Scotland is in control of all aspects of the development and exploitation of our massive renewable resources and that our country benefits in full accordingly.

No repeat of the Westminster grab and squander of our oil resources should be tolerated. An Independent Scotland is the only way forward.

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