New nuclear power stations should be built in Scotland to help solve the UK’s energy crisis and bring household bills down, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The Labour leader said the Scottish Government’s total opposition to nuclear energy meant that the nation could miss out on millions of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs.
Sir Keir was speaking before a planned visit to Glasgow on Tuesday, where he will campaign alongside Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar before the local elections on 5 May.
Last week the UK Government’s energy strategy included plans for eight new nuclear power stations, all of which will be built in England and Wales.
The Scottish Government has said it has “no intention” of allowing any new reactors to be built north of the border and would focus instead on renewables.
Scotland currently has only one nuclear power station, the Torness plant in East Lothian, after the Hunterston B site in North Ayrshire was closed in January.
Sir Keir and Mr Sarwar said the SNP should reverse its opposition to nuclear in light of the energy crisis, arguing that it should be part of the UK’s overall mix to ensure “stability of output” and secure the country’s future energy supply.
Labour also pointed out that by turning its back on nuclear, the Scottish Government could be jeopardising a bid for a state-of-the-art nuclear fusion plant in North Ayrshire.
The proposed facility at Ardeer would specialise in nuclear fusion rather than fission, with the potential to generate virtually unlimited supplies of low-carbon, low-radiation energy.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority has shortlisted Ardeer as a possible site for the UK’s first nuclear fusion facility alongside four others, with a decision due later this year.
“We need answers that focus on bringing bills down long term, as well as meeting our commitments to cut our reliance on fossil fuels and make our energy supply more secure in an unstable world,” Mr Sarwar said.
“To do that nuclear, and the highly paid and skilled jobs it brings, must be part of Scotland’s energy mix.
“But Scotland now risks paying the price in lost jobs and opportunities for the SNP’s unscientific and economically backward opposition to nuclear energy.”
Sir Keir added: “Both the SNP and the Tories need to get their act together when comes to dealing with the energy crisis.
“We need real investment in green and renewables jobs, not more broken promises.
“But we also need to seize the opportunities for investment and energy security that come with nuclear energy.”
Scottish Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said his government’s opposition to new nuclear power stations was on environmental grounds, due to safety concerns and because “it is probably the most expensive form of electricity you can choose to produce”.