How prejudice against nuclear power has cost Scotland dear – Brian Wilson

Scotland has turned its back on nuclear power, while failing to develop the massive potential for a renewable energy manufacturing sector, writes Brian Wilson.
Low-carbon electricity is generated in the turbine hall at Torness nuclear power station (Picture: Esme Allen)Low-carbon electricity is generated in the turbine hall at Torness nuclear power station (Picture: Esme Allen)
Low-carbon electricity is generated in the turbine hall at Torness nuclear power station (Picture: Esme Allen)

With more vision and less prejudice, Scotland could be leading the world as generator of carbon-free electricity in reality as well as unfulfilled headlines.

Scotland had the ideal combination – nuclear baseload and massive potential for renewable energy. We have blown both.

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We could have remained massive exporters of electricity while providing thousands of well-paid jobs. But prejudice prevailed and Scotland turned its back on civil nuclear power.

Many who now make a living from wailing about climate change preferred global warming to a balanced energy policy which included nuclear new-build.

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Some environmentalists understood the stupidity of that contradiction. They might not have liked nuclear, but they feared global warming. Such voices were drowned in the righteous clamour of “green” orthodoxy – and counter-productivity.

Now we are world leaders in nothing. Globally, there are 50 nuclear stations under construction. Scotland will become importers of nuclear power from England. We might get a few supply chain orders, if that is deemed morally acceptable.

Over six decades, Hunterston made a massive contribution to Scotland’s economy. It breathed economic life into the constituency I represented for 18 years. It fostered well-paid, skilled careers. I salute all that as much as I hold its detractors in contempt.

The vision of a Labour government in the 1960s – to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes – created a great Scottish nuclear industry, thousands of jobs and economic security for generations of Scottish families.

With an open door to renewables, the Scottish Government has certainly created jobs – in Germany, Denmark and Spain but precious few in Scotland. Last week, SSE confirmed all 103 turbines for its Shetland windfarm will be manufactured in Denmark and it hardly raised an eyebrow.

Spot the difference and weep.

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