FRIENDS of the Earth has backed the Scottish Government in a war of words with Westminster over nuclear power.

UK Energy Minister Michael Fallon has tried to block Holyrood ministers from taking part in a European Commission investigation into No 10 plans to subsidise a new nuclear plant in England. Mr Fallon told his opposite number at Holyrood, Fergus Ewing, that any representation to Brussels on plans to support a power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset would be viewed as a "hostile act".

The Scottish Government, which opposes nuclear energy, is understood to be concerned about the Hinkley Point project, not least because it could pose competition to renewable exports from north of the Border.

These views are shared by Friends of the Earth. Its director, Richard Dixon, said yesterday: "The UK Government's obsession with getting new nuclear at any cost is a direct threat to investment in renewables and efficiency. The bottom line is that ­Scotland is rich in clean, green energy sources, and green electricity will be in demand more and more as the rest of the UK and countries in Europe try to cut climate emissions.

"If Europe eventually clears the way UK electricity consumers will be paying around a billion a year for 35 years to subsidise only two reactors in England.

"Just a fraction of this money would see the widespread rollout of renewables and improvements in energy efficiency."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change stressed that Scotland WAS "part of the UK member state in the EU and cannot act as a separate entity".

Mr Ewing, if he has concerns, should raise them with Whitehall, not Brussels, she said.

She added: "It would not be acceptable for one part of the same member state to intervene against policy proposals from another."

Earlier this year EC signalled that the UK's deal with France's EDF to build a new plant at Hinkley may amount to illegal state aid.

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson said the UK stance was "completely unacceptable."