Scotland wants German-style nuclear shutdown, says SNP
GERMANY'S decision to shut its nuclear power plants has sparked a furious row in Scottish politics, as a leading SNP politician claimed the move was the same "route that Scotland wishes to go down".
The German coalition government's plans to phase out all of its nuclear power stations by 2022 mean the country is the biggest industrial power to give up on the controversial form of energy.
Nationalist MSPs at Holyrood seized on yesterday's announcement, with energy minister Fergus Ewing saying that the move "adds further weight" to the SNP's plans to generate all of Scotland's energy from renewables within ten years.
But Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservatives' spokesman on energy issues, told The Scotsman that the SNP's plans for 100 per cent reliance on renewable energy by 2020 was "extreme recklessness" and could lead to Scotland being forced to buy nuclear power from England if nuclear power stations north of the Border were closed.
The row came at Holyrood after Germany's environment minister, Norbert Rottgen, announced the nuclear power station closure programme yesterday following late-night talks.
Mr Rottgen said the seven oldest reactors - which were taken offline for a safety review immediately after the Japanese crisis - would never be used again.
An eighth plant - the Kruemmel facility in northern Germany, which was already offline and has been plagued by technical problems - would also be shut down for good, he said.
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He added: "It's definite. The latest end for the last three nuclear power plants is 2022. There will be no clause for revision."
German chancellor Angela Merkel set up a panel to review nuclear power following the catastrophe at Fukushima in Japan in March, with a wave of mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany in the wake of the explosions, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.
Mr Ewing claimed that the German government's move highlighted the dangers "associated with nuclear power" and said that Scotland was "ideally placed" to follow a similar route.
He said: "We welcome this announcement from the German government, which adds to the growing international realisation of difficulties associated with nuclear power.
"It adds further weight to our view that Scotland does not need a new generation of costly nuclear plants and is instead ideally placed to become a green energy powerhouse. That's why we have a new target of generating 100 per cent of Scotland's electricity needs from renewables by 2020 - one of the most demanding anywhere in the world."
But Mr Carlaw said there were "severe risks" with the SNP's plans to replace nuclear power with a policy of relying on renewables for all energy.Mr Carlaw said: "The German decision owes more to internal politics and a strategy to maintain the coalition government in the country than anything else.
"The SNP government has been unable to show that renewable energy will generate enough power. We have to keep Scotland's existing power stations open to avoid the lights being switched off.
"The question is whether renewables would generate enough energy in the timescale set out by the SNP government to meet the needs that nuclear currently provides. There are severe risks associated with abandoning nuclear power. Unless the SNP can give an assurance that renewables would generate all the electricity required, then it would be extreme recklessness to exclude nuclear power.
"At the end of the day there won't be sufficient power generated from renewables and if nuclear power stations were closed in Scotland, we could end up having to buy nuclear power from England."
Mr Carlaw's attack on the SNP's flagship renewables policy came after senior nationalist MSP John Wilson told The Scotsman that the Scottish Government target of 100 per cent was "more than achievable" by 2020.
The SNP MSP dismissed suggestions that the commitment to a 100 per cent reneawbles target would lead to a massive increase in the number of wind farms across Scotland.
Mr Wilson said: "Angela Merkel has taken Germany down the route that Scotland wishes to go down. By ending its dependence on nuclear power Scotland can show the world how green technology can provide fuel to society. With the right investment and enthusiasm from government and industry, the 100 per cent target is more than achievable by 2020."
Labour's finance spokesman, Richard Baker, who speaks for the party on energy issues, said the SNP had yet to come up with a "persuasive answer" to questions about where all the renewable energy would come from.
He said: "Scotland should have mixed sources of energy production and Labour has a strong commitment to the renewables sector. But there have been questions asked about the feasibility of the SNP's target and it's up to the Scottish Government to say that how this would be met.
"The SNP government has yet to provide a persuasive answer on how it would achieve what is a really ambitious target of 100 per cent reliance on renewables for Scotland's energy by 2020."
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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