The SNP’s Energy Secretary has turned down the latest plea for nuclear power stations to be constructed north of the Border – insisting the technology “is not safe, it is expensive and it is not wanted”.

The Scottish Government has a long-held opposition to nuclear power and is not part of its plans for the nation to meet net zero.

Instead, the Scottish Government believes it can meet energy demands by drastically ramping up the capacity for offshore wind and other renewables.

At COP28, governments including the UK, the United States and France pledged to boost the capacity of nuclear power as part of efforts to turn away from fossil fuels.

The Nuclear Industry Association has warned that Scotland's reluctance to embrace the technology risks leaving the country "painfully isolated".

Read more: COP28: Scotland 'painfully isolated' as leaders back nuclear future

Power and energy is largely reserved to the UK Government, but Scottish ministers can effectively veto proposals for Scotland through devolved planning regulations.

Torness power station in East Lothian is the only remaining operational nuclear power station in Scotland.

SNP Energy Secretary Neil Gray was asked by Conservative MSP Edward Mountain if the Scottish Government will change its mind and embrace nuclear power.

Speaking in Holyrood, Mr Gray said: “We are doing that because it is not safe, it is expensive and it is not wanted in Scotland. In addition, it is not needed in Scotland.

“We have abundant natural energy resources and capital that can contribute and are contributing to our energy mix.”

He added: “As we are all seeing from experiences elsewhere in the United Kingdom, new nuclear power takes years—if not decades—to become operational, and it will push up household and business energy bills even more.

Read more: Analysis: Stuttering targets cloud Scottish Government impact at COP28

“Under the contract awarded by the UK Government to Hinkley Point C, the electricity that will be generated will be priced at £92.50 per megawatt hour.

“We know that the Tories care little these days about achieving a pathway to net zero, but the Scottish National Party Government still does. We believe that significant growth in renewables, storage, hydrogen and carbon capture provides the best pathway to net zero for Scotland.”

But Mr Mountain told MSPs that over the weekend with “very cold weather” and “not a gust of wind”, Scotland “relied on nuclear power to keep the lights on”.

Read more: COP28: Yousaf urged to harness 'global leadership' for ecocide success

He added: “Given that, why is Scotland’s Government so hypocritical, being happy to import nuclear power and allowing our jobs and investment in the industry to go abroad?

“I went to Torness the other day and saw a very safe nuclear power station that employed plenty of people in Scotland.

“I asked them what they would change if they were to redesign the nuclear power station. They said ‘nothing’, because what they do is good for Scotland and keeps jobs in the local economy.

“Why will the minister not accept that? Why does he believe that safety is the paramount failing of nuclear power, when no one else agrees with that?”

But Mr Gray pointed to “evidence of the alleged hacking of Sellafield this week and what we have seen from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” as “worries around safety”.

He added: “We in Scotland are not the only ones who have such concerns: many colleagues in the European Union are either moving away from or continue to oppose new nuclear power.”