WHAT will history say about Scotland’s eviction of nuclear power? When Torness commenced generating in 1988, it was our third nuclear plant, the other two being Hunterston A and B. The Torness site was chosen with space for a future Torness B.

Torness technology of the Advanced Gas-Cooler Reactor (AGR) was the best of its time, put in place by engineering right here in Scotland. But fearful governments of every colour, a point highlighted by Doug Maughan (Letters, February 18), have turned away from nuclear to ... what?

No other system of power generation is as kind to climate or environment as nuclear. Yet we shy away from it. The clue, to which Mr Maughan alludes, remains popular confusion between nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

So Scotland has not only lost the ability to design and create AGR stations – or whatever is the better technology today – but by the early 1990s we had given up interest in sites of future nuclear stations, such as Chapeldonan near Girvan, and another near Banff on the Moray Coast.

Nuclear power is dangerous? More than 30 years ago, I recall the then station manager in Torness relating to me that the biggest danger at Torness came from the A1 outside the station. His memorable words were: “Two cars approaching each other at 60 miles per hour are separated just by a white line painted on the road”.

As if he hadn’t made his point, he then indicated the row of manuals above his desk outlining safety procedures for every step of the way in maintaining and producing nuclear power. On the opposite wall was a chart outlining schemes of continuous professional training for every member of staff.

Scotland’s Government lets us down by shutting eyes and ears to nuclear power, and the research, development and jobs that come from it.

I’m all right, Jock, for by the time a brown-out precedes the first black-out, I won’t be here. But my grandchildren will.

Gordon Casely, Crathes.


I REFER to Doug Maughan’s informed letter concerning the failure of the Scottish Government to build nuclear power stations. The subject has arisen from a justified concern about energy costs, however readers may not be aware that there is an even more important issue, namely the security of our electricity supply. It is seriously compromised by the loss of the system inertia which Torness provides and Hunterston provided. This means that there is an ever-increasing risk of total collapse of the electricity grid. What makes the situation even more worrying is the fact that wind generation cannot provide the necessary inertia and the greater our reliance on wind, the more acute the risk of extended power "black-outs".

System stability is a complex electrical engineering subject which our advanced society absolutely relies on. Unfortunately, it is challenging to understand and certainly not a subject which is a preoccupation of all the private investment companies and institutions seeking to profit from wind subsidies. What we need is a government properly focused on the real risks to the future welfare of our country. It is clearly not sensible to rely on the judgement of politicians alone, particularly those with simplistic understanding of the technology which the electricity supply depends on. The Scottish Government’s relentless faith in wind power as our saviour is misleading the public. It comes from an irresponsible reliance on vested interests and a misplaced confidence in skills which they don’t have.

We need nuclear not only to contain energy costs but for a reliable supply. The references to wind costs undercutting nuclear are entirely disingenuous. They fail to include the system integration costs and the continuing absolute dependence on gas to make up the shortfall. The figures quoted by Michael Matheson for Hinkley Point C along with a wind CFD of £39.65/MWhr, when some of the latest CFD contracts for offshore wind exceed £150 and current figures for nuclear are less than £50, illustrate how fully he lacks the knowledge required of a Minister for Energy.

We urgently need a fully independent professional Energy Authority staffed with appropriate skills to direct Government policy. The present preoccupation with Independence is akin to the oft repeated “fiddling while Rome is burning”.

Norman McNab, Killearn.


IN 2020, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority offered Westminster a rough estimate of how much it would cost to decommission obsolete Magnox and AGR reactors in the UK. Its best guess was about £132 billion.

However, that figure fades into nonsense when it is combined with the other part of their projection – that the process will take at least 120 years. Simply put, the true monetary costs of nuclear power – building, maintaining, downtime for failures and repairs, decommissioning and waste disposal – show that it is absolutely uneconomic. Magnox and AGRs were nuclear experiments; they are being abandoned for very good reasons.

The nuclear industry chose Scotland for its most dangerous experiments and we bear testimony to the other – more damning – costs of that technology. Caithness was recently told that land around Dounreay would not be safe to use for 300 years. Sepa apparently also decided some time ago that trying to retrieve more potentially-lethal particles of spent nuclear fuel from the seabed off Dounreay was neither feasible not advisable. The particles were first discovered – and kept secret – in 1983.

Scotland should reject any attempt to foist further nuclear experiments – small, large, fission or fusion – on any part of our country. We have already paid a terrible price for Westminster’s lethal dalliance with a technology that does not work and whose real bills – monetary, environmental and health – will probably never be paid.

Frances McKie, Evanton.


STEPH Johnson (Letters, February 18) claims that I suggested in my letter of February 16 that "everyone in Scotland supports (the SNP) and their endless independence distraction". I said no such thing. However, I would remind Ms Johnson that at last May's Scottish Parliament elections the SNP won 62 constituency seats on a manifesto which pledged to deliver an independence referendum, while the three unionist parties lumped together won only 11 constituency seats. I would also point her in the direction of the latest opinion poll from Electoral Calculus (who were the most accurate of the pre-poll predictors of the 2019 General Election result) which predicts that every Tory MP in Scotland could lose their seat at a General Election, while Sir John Curtice thinks that based on that poll, the SNP could win 56 or 57 seats out of Scotland's quota of 59.

I had to laugh at Ms Johnson's advice that I should "take the trouble to meet some more Scots outwith my own separatist circle". I have been campaigning for independence for more than half a century, across much of Scotland, from Aberdeen to Ayrshire and from Glasgow to Glenrothes, and although political campaigning has changed over the years, in my old-fashioned opinion, meeting voters on their doorsteps and listening to their views is the most important aspect of any election campaign.

I was on Falkirk doorsteps last October during the Falkirk South by-election, won by the SNP, and I'll be on more doorsteps during the upcoming council election campaign. I find that voters appreciate policies such as the Scottish Child Payment, baby boxes, free personal care, free childcare, and no charge for prescriptions and university tuition. And I can report that even voters who are not SNP supporters admit that Nicola Sturgeon has worked tirelessly throughout the health pandemic and behaved with dignity, in sharp contrast to the antics of the Tory Prime Minister in Downing Street.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


I READ with interest the letter from Steph Johnson in which she lays out a lengthy list of gripes against the First Minister and the Scottish Government.

I would suggest that with some of her complaints the blame lays firmly at the door of Westminster, some are perhaps a tad disingenuous and I concede that some may indeed have some merit; for example was the First Minister right to join numerous other commentators in condemning the footballer ill-treating his cat?

I don’t think the word “separatist” is helpful as it creates a negative image in possibly the same way as unionists perhaps dislike the term “Yoons”.

Can I remind Ms Johnson that around two-thirds of her fellow countrymen and women voted to remain in EU and they have now been dragged out against their will? This of course was one of the solemn promises in the now hugely-discredited “Vow”.

Does she wish to continue with Trident, increasing levels of child poverty and food bank usage, obscene bankers’ bonuses, corruption on an industrial scale including cash for honours, PPE fiasco, cash for questions, Wallpapergate, Partygate and more?

No one is pretending that an independent Scotland will be a land of milk and honey but it we will be in a far better place than what we have just now.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.