Holyrood raises concerns over nuclear safety post-Brexit

Roseanna Cunningham wants guarantees over nuclear safety
Roseanna Cunningham wants guarantees over nuclear safety
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The Scottish Government has today raised fears about nuclear safety over the prospect of the UK withdrawing from Europe's atomic watchdog.

The Brexit process looks likely to mean an end to British membership of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) – the treaty governing the movement of nuclear materials.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham is now calling on the UK Government must urgently confirm its future plans for the safe transfer of radioactive materials and technologies that will affect all parts of the UK.

In a letter to the UK’s Secretary of UK Energy Secretary Greg Clark, Ms Cunningham sets out Scotland’s preference to remain as full members of the Euratom and if that is not possible, for the UK to seek associate membership.

Scotland still has two operational nuclear power plants at Hunterson in Ayrshire and Torness in East Lothian.

Ms Cunningham's letter states: "The future international arrangements for cooperation on research and for the transfer of radioactive materials and technologies will affect all parts of the UK.

"Amongst those affected will be nuclear operators, the users of radioactive materials including in the health service, and supply chain industries across the UK.

"These different aspects cannot be considered in isolation in determining our future relationship with Euratom and other countries, and our international obligations under the International Atomic Energy Agency."

Nuclear safeguards and safety are reserved and the regulation of radioactive waste and emissions is devolved.

Ms Cunningham adds: "Whatever future arrangements are put in place, I would like a guarantee that Scotland will not lose any of the devolved competence that we have over radioactive substances regulation, including waste and emissions."

Although the SNP Government is opposed to nuclear power, it has agreed to extend the lifetimes of both Hunterston and Torness during its decade in power to ensure energy supplies remain stable.