By Drew Hendry, SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

THERE are many challenges in representing Scotland’s energy needs in Westminster, but one recurring theme is that no matter how strong our arguments are, no matter how many national institutions agree with us, and no matter how clear the facts are, it is impossible to shift the Tories from their ideological commitment to nuclear energy.

This month, the National Infrastructure Commission, established in 2015 to provide independent advice, used its five-yearly National Infrastructure Assessment to argue “an energy system based on low-cost renewables . . . may prove cheaper than building further nuclear plants, as the cost of these technologies is far more likely to fall, and at a faster rate.”

It went on to warn “against a rush to agree government support for multiple new nuclear power stations and proposes that after Hinkley Point C, the Government should agree support for only one more nuclear plant before 2025”.

That’s important because it comes in the context of the UK Government pressing ahead with the new Wylfa nuclear power plant in Wales with reports suggesting it will have a strike price of £77.50 – brought down from Hinkley’s £92.5/MWH through UK Government intervention, though even this is significantly higher than offshore wind’s £57.50/MWH, even when intermittency costs of around £7/MWH are included.

To build the site, reports suggest the UK Government is prepared to pump an eye-watering £15 billion in equity and debt provision – a massive cost for a Government bogged down in Brexit and endless austerity.

What really sticks in the throat, however, is that directors from the UK Government’s Wylfa partner, Hitachi, reportedly want “safeguards that reduce or eliminate Hitachi’s financial responsibility for accidents at the plant” despite liability for nuclear developers already being capped at €1.3bn by the Brussels and Paris conventions. They want to abdicate the risk and the taxpayer to pick it up.

That sets a dangerous precedent. Companies profit from sky-high nuclear prices but leave the public with burden of a nuclear tar-baby. Bear in mind, these demands follow two serious safety breaches in Hitachi nuclear developments, one of which resulted in a $2.7m US Government fine. The SNP will not let this deal go ahead unopposed and that is why my colleague Alan Brown MP is leading a debate on the today.

The UK Government must follow the Public Account’s Committee’s demand and provide a full Value for Money assessment, subject for Parliamentary scrutiny, before the final signing of any such deal.

Don’t hold your breath. Despite my motion and contribution to a debate this month and SNP questions to the Secretary of State last week, the UK Government refuses to listen. Tory nuclear dogma is pervasive as it is incompetent. Examine their long track record. They scrapped subsidies for renewables, failed to adequately support the oil and gas sector in its time of need, and, shamefully, reneged on their pledge to invest £1 billion in a new Carbon Capture and Storage scheme which Peterhead leaving the community and companies betrayed.

Rather than burdening future generations with outdated nuclear technology the rest of the world is leaving behind, UK energy policy should focus on harnessing Scotland’s enormous renewables potential to deliver a diversified, decentralised and green energy system that meets the needs of taxpayers and consumers whilst promoting domestic investment and innovation in sustainable forms of energy that can drive Scotland’s economy forward.