THE UK Government’s Energy Minister has called on Scottish ministers to reverse its opposition to nuclear power.

The Scottish Government has long-held an opposition to nuclear power “under current technologies”.

Although energy is reserved to Westminster, the SNP Government can effectively veto new nuclear power stations being building in Scotland due to devolved planning regulations.

SNP Energy Secretary Michael Matheson has said that a new fleet of small modular reactors would still not be appropriate.

The Scottish Government instead wants to ramp up renewables and develop clean hydrogen – pointing to the comparatively higher costs of nuclear power compared to renewables.

The UK Government’s new energy security strategy, published last month, gave the green light to ramp up North Sea oil and gas production while generation of renewables and nuclear power are to be accelerated.

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Under the vision, around 25 per cent or 24GW of energy across the UK would be generated by nuclear power by 2050.

But as things stand, none of the eight new proposed nuclear reactors are to be constructed in Scotland.

Speaking to Holyrood’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee, UK Energy Minister Greg Hands, appealed to SNP and Greens ministers to halt their opposition to nuclear power.

He said: “It would be really helpful if the Scottish Government were to drop its ideological opposition to nuclear.

“Nuclear has got a fantastic track record in Scotland.”

He added: “When the Hunterston power plant closed just before Christmas, that was an incredible success story. It generated zero carbon low-cost electricity for every Scottish home equivalent for 32 years.

It's a pity, I think, to see Scotland not participating, thanks to the Scottish Government’s approach to nuclear, in our nuclear renaissance.”

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The Scottish Government has delayed the publication of its first energy strategy since 2017 until the autumn, blamed in part on the delayed UK Government document.

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.

“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."