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Sin of omission to put nuclear off-limits for our energy mix

YOUR editorial comment ("Extension to the life of Hunterston B is welcome", The Herald, December 5) rightly highlights that we should welcome the extension to the operating life of the Hunterston B nuclear plant.

As you note, Hunterston has been delivering copious clean energy, from a single compact site, long before climate change became a political issue.

However, Hunterston B and Torness will still close at some point in the future and will not be replaced due to a Government prohibition on new nuclear build. The impacts of this far-reaching decision are two-fold.

First, a large number of highly-skilled jobs in nuclear physics and engineering will be lost forever from the Scottish economy. Secondly, a Hunterson C and Torness B would have made major contributions to the future of clean energy production in the UK. Both sites have the required infrastructure, grid connections and highly skilled work force.

By prohibiting new nuclear build in Scotland, the Government has therefore put two prime locations for new nuclear plants permanently off limits and tied the hands of those who advocate the development of clean energy. For a Government which brought forward robust climate change legislation this is very much a sin of omission.

Colin R McInnes,

23 Williamwood Park West,

Netherlee,

Glasgow.

YOUR excellent leader on the retention of Hunterston B nuclear power station highlights several shortcomings in the energy policies emanating from Holyrood. Indeed you pose questions that remain unanswered; one can search dozens of documents from Holyrood (and Westminster) and fail to find any detailed planning regarding the proposed energy mix that will take care of the intermittency of wind, tide and wave generators by 2020 or beyond. The conclusion has to be that no such viable answer exists.

The WWF position is likewise untenable; would it rather the fossil fuels allow CO2 by millions of tonnes per day contaminate the atmosphere unabated while nuclear waste – a minute fraction in volume – is gathered up and stored in safety. Why does the WWF compare nuclear weapons with nuclear energy? It's like comparing Sherman tanks with school buses, they are made for totally different purposes.

Perhaps the WWF and other like bodies could provide a detailed portfolio of safe, secure and affordable renewable energy to meet the 100% renewable energy target by 2020 – with the proviso that it must pass muster with the dozens of Scottish academics, institutions and professionals who have been seeking the same data. The data should not be a wish list.

Bob Hamilton,

55 Halbeath Road,

Dunfermline.

THE news that the Hunterston nuclear power station is to continue operating until at least 2023 is an early Christmas present for the workforce, the local economy and Scotland's energy mix.

The decision will secure the jobs of more than 700 people and the fact that a further extension has not been ruled out gives everyone hope that a Hunterston C could be ready to replace it by then.

I'm delighted that the SNP appears to have overcome its anti-nuclear prejudice to support this decision, even if it places a question mark over the credibility of its position.

How would the gap in the local economy caused by the loss of 700 jobs directly and hundreds more indirectly have been plugged?

What about the gap in electricity production if Hunterston were to close? Low-carbon nuclear power remains a vital part of our energy mix, generating a higher proportion of electricity in Scotland than in the rest of Britain.

The SNP Government's planned coal-fired power station did not get off the ground despite its inclusion in the National Planning Framework. Licensing Hunterston B to continue to play its part was the only feasible alternative if carbon emissions were not to escalate even further.

In the long term it is clear that the campaign for a new nuclear station at Hunterston has been given a massive boost by this decision and it is to be hoped there will once more be a Scottish government that recognises the importance of a balanced energy policy that includes nuclear as the only realistic way to maintain security of supply, cut carbon emissions and restrain the relentless rise in energy costs.

Putting all our eggs in the onshore wind basket was never likely to succeed and this decision secures low carbon baseload generation well into the next decade and, it is to be hoped, beyond.

Allan Wilson,

44 Stoneyholm Road,

Kilbirnie.

Contextual targeting label: 
Environment

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