The SNP’S Energy Secretary has been accused of failing to understand his own government’s policy after rejecting nuclear power from a new technology his administration has insisted it is open to looking at.

Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Secretary, has insisted that his administration will continue to oppose the development of nuclear power stations in Scotland.

The UK Government has placed a new generation of nuclear power plants at the heart of its new energy strategy, published yesterday.

Although energy is reserved to the UK Government, the Scottish Government has devolved powers to block developments through planning regulations.

None of the eight new nuclear hubs are planned to be built in Scotland.

But the UK Government is also hoping to use small modular reactors as part of its plan – which are smaller and cheaper and can be constructed in a factory and put together on site.

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The Scottish Government’s stated nuclear power strategy states that it continues to oppose nuclear power “under current technologies”.

But the policy points to “new technologies”, which the document uses small modular reactors as an example.

It says: “We are aware of increasing interest in the development of new nuclear technologies such as small modular reactors.

“We have a duty to assess this and all other new technologies based on safety, value for consumers, and contribution to Scotland’s low-carbon economy and energy future.”

But the Scottish Government has insisted that small modular reactors actually fall under current technology.

A UK Government source told the Herald that a key thread of its joint working with SNP minsiters would be to understand "the Scottish Government’s evolving policy positions".

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.

“Small modular reactors, while innovative in construction and size, still generate electricity using nuclear fission and therefore the process presents the same environmental concerns as traditional nuclear power plants.

READ MORE: SNP Government opening up to nuclear power in independent Scotland would be 'catastrophic'

“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."

The Scottish Government has delayed the publictaion of its first energy strategy since 2017 until the autumn.

The Scottish Conservatives have called on the Scottish Government to give up its ideological opposition to nuclear power.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for net zero, energy and transport, said: "As ever, the SNP push their own agenda with no regard for their responsibilities as a party of government.

"Any capable coalition would be looking at the data and the science behind nuclear as one of many solutions to help our energy security. But not the shambles they have cobbled together with the Greens.

"Michael Matheson has not done any homework about the benefits of nuclear and its potential to contribute to the low-carbon economy. He hasn't even checked the Scottish Government's own policy."

A UK Government source said: “We want to work with the Scottish Government to ensure Scotland is at the heart of future energy plans and the vital twin drive towards net zero and greater self-sufficiency. 

“Understanding the Scottish Government’s evolving policy positions will be key to that joint working.”