SNP Energy Secretary Neil Gray has been accused of having “spread falsehoods about nuclear power” after angering industry bosses over comments he made about the technology.

Last week, Mr Gray told Holyrood that nuclear power “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.

Read more: UK Government gives up on imposing nuclear energy on Scotland

The UK Government wants to roll out new nuclear reactors, including in Scotland – but will not be able to with the Scottish Government’s opposition.

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.

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

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

It has now written to Mr Gray, criticising his comments, which the organisation has branded “factually inaccurate”.

Chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatex, has hit back at Mr Gray’s comments and defended the technology.

In his letter, Mr Greatex says that “many people across Scotland will have been alarmed to hear those falsehoods promoted by a minister with responsibility for energy in the Scottish Government”.

He added that Torness “operates to the highest standards of safety in all circumstances, independently verified by the regulator”.

Mr Greatex said: “You insult the more than 700 people working there when you suggest that they operate anything less than a world-class station.

“Scotland has had the cleanest power mix of the four nations of the United Kingdom because it has both nuclear and renewables.

Read more: Neil Gray points to safety risks as he rejects nuclear power attempts

“Scotland has consistently generated the most nuclear power of any part of the UK, thus avoiding more carbon dioxide emissions than any other power source in Scottish history."

The letter also repeats the invitation, which was declined by Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan, to meet with representatives of the civil nuclear industry in Scotland to discuss the Scottish Government's concerns and facts and science of nuclear power.

Mr Greatrex said: “It is shocking to see the Scottish Energy Minister spread falsehoods about nuclear power in Scotland.

“He has devalued the enormous contribution nuclear has made to the nation’s net zero goals, energy security and jobs and has insulted the professionalism of Scottish nuclear workers with false criticism about safety.

“Scotland has consistently generated the most nuclear power of any part of the UK, thus avoiding more carbon dioxide emissions than any other power source in Scottish history. Torness nuclear plant is the best power generating asset in Scotland, with the cleanest lifecycle generation, the highest reliability as measured by load factor, and the highest output of any station in the nation.

“Its nuclear sites have an exemplary safety record and the highest safety standards of any electricity source with a world-class workforce which keeps the country’s lights on day in day out.

“It is disappointing that when 78% of the world’s economy backs nuclear, Scotland is turning its back on science and disrespecting an industry, and workforce that has helped give the country the cleanest power anywhere in the UK.

“Nuclear should be at the heart of Scotland’s clean energy future. Ruling out new nuclear is bad science and bad judgement for Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We recognise that operators such as Torness work to stringent standards. However, the Scottish Government does not support the building of new nuclear fission power stations in Scotland under current technologies. New nuclear power is expensive; will take years, if not decades, to become operational, and has significant environmental concerns.

“Through our draft energy strategy and just transition plan we have set out a clear pathway to deliver on global commitments and capitalise on the enormous opportunities offered by becoming a net zero economy.

“Significant growth in renewables, hydrogen and carbon capture storage provide the best pathway to net zero by 2045, and will deliver a climate friendly energy system that delivers affordable, resilient and clean energy supplies for Scotland.”