SNP ministers have been accused of putting skilled jobs at risk after being “blinded by their ill-informed view of nuclear energy”.

The warning comes after it was revealed that the Scottish Government has held no talks with Rolls-Royce over the possibility of producing small nuclear reactors (SMRs) to help meet Scotland’s future net zero energy needs.

Union leaders have pleaded with SNP ministers to open up discussions with Rolls Royce about the nuclear power industry maintaining a presence in Scotland.

UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has asked government regulators to assess Rolls-Royce’s designs for the small reactors, insisting “this is a "significant step in binging SMRs into existence”.

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The company has raised around £500 million to develop the small modular reactors. Rolls-Royce is aiming to be able to produce the reactors in a factory.

The firm hopes to start producing the reactions in the early 2030s, with estimates for the 470MW units at around £1.8bn – proportionately more expensive than the reactor used for the controversial Hinkley Point C plant in England where costs have soared.

In January, the Hunterston B nuclear plant in North Ayrshire ceased production, leaving only the EDF-run Torness site in East Lothian as the remaining nuclear power site in Scotland.

Amid the closure of Hunterston, the majority of staff said they wanted to carry on working at the plant.

EDF said that every member of staff who said they wanted to stay has been successful in securing a role through defueling and some staff have been supported to move to other EDF sites and some have opted to retire.

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Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport, Liam Kerr, said: “Hard on the heels of being snubbed in the just transition fund, nuclear workers have suffered another missed opportunity as a result of the SNP-Green coalition’s dogmatic stance on nuclear energy generation.

“This is a further blow especially for staff based at the now-closed Hunterston facility, who could have utilised their skills in a Scottish-based nuclear industry had the Scottish Government engaged with Rolls-Royce. Instead, they will have to uproot and move south if they wish to keep working in the nuclear sector - taking their valuable and transferable skills out of Scotland.

“This SNP-Green Government is blinded by their ill-informed view of nuclear energy generation when a more considered approach could keep people in the high skilled, high performing jobs they are trained to do whilst enabling others, especially our younger people to train into these roles."

Energy is largely reserved to the UK Government, but the Scottish Government effectively has a veto on new nuclear power developments through planning regulations.

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SNP Net Zero, Energy and Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson has stressed his government’s continued opposition to new nuclear power developments under current technology, including small modular reactors.

He said: “The reality is that, although small modular reactors represent a change in construction type, the technology is the same, by and large, on a smaller scale.

“As we have set out in our energy strategy, under existing technologies, we do not support new nuclear energy provision.

“Although there is a change in terms of scale and in the nature of its construction, in terms of the principle of the nuclear process, it remains the same, and it is not a new technology in that sense.”

In a letter to Mr Matheson, senior organsiser of the GMB union, Drew Duffy, warned that “nuclear workers and GMB members across Scotland are in danger of once again being left behind due to the Scottish Government’s continued opposition to nuclear power".

He added: “EDF sites at Hunterston and Torness have skilled workforces who now face their lives being uprooted as their jobs move to the rest of the UK where new nuclear opportunities are being seized.

“The Scottish Government needs to outline if it’s opposed to these jobs being in Scotland. If not, then they must begin immediate discussions with Rolls Royce to bid for the factory and the jobs it will bring.

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is absolutely clear in our opposition to the building of new traditional nuclear fission energy plants in Scotland under current technologies.

“We believe that significant growth in renewables, storage, hydrogen and carbon capture provides the best pathway to net zero by 2045, and will deliver the decarbonisation we need to see across industry, heat and transport. New nuclear power will take years, if not decades, to become operational and will also be expensive – pushing up household bills."

She added: “The transition to net zero will offer many new opportunities for highly skilled, well paid jobs across the energy sector for industry experts, apprentices and graduates. Scotland has long been the centre of expertise in energy innovation and this expertise will prove crucial as we work to capture the opportunities the transition to a net zero economy presents.

“We recognise that planning will be crucial to ensure that economic and social opportunities from the transition are not missed. Our national just transition planning framework sets out the consistent, ambitious approach we will take to developing transition plans.

"We have committed to delivering our first just transition plan as part of the forthcoming refreshed Scottish energy strategy, and will work in partnership with businesses, workers and communities to ensure this provides the certainty needed for investment in our net zero journey.”