First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘bizarre and blinded’ position on nuclear power slammed

An MSP has lambasted the First Minster for her “bizarre and blinded” position on North Ayrshire’s bid to secure the billion pound STEP nuclear fusion plant.

West Scotland MSP Jamie Greene wants North Ayrshire’s SNP politicians to publicly back the area’s bid to host the prototype fusion power facility after Nicola Sturgeon ‘failed to do so’.

The shadow justice secretary is backing the bid for the Ardeer to come out on top against four English sites currently in contention.

The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), is a new type of fusion power plant capable of delivering power to the National Grid.

This emerging technology could have the potential to provide virtually limitless zero-carbon energy without generating dangerous radioactive waste, and would create more than 3500 jobs that would significantly benefit North Ayrshire and the surrounding area in its initial stage.

The Scottish Conservative MSP grilled Nicola Sturgeon on the issue in parliament and expressed disbelief and disappointment at her failure to back North Ayrshire’s bid for jobs and zero carbon energy.

Commenting, Mr Greene said: “I asked Nicola Sturgeon to explicitly support this bid, but her bizarre and blinded position against new nuclear power meant she failed to do so, even though the facility could be instrumental in helping Scotland reach its net zero goals.

“This type of new prototype fusion power facility could be revolutionary in the fight for net zero, providing a near-limitless supply of low-to-no carbon energy without the harmful waste created by traditional nuclear facilities.

“It would also create more than 3500 jobs for people in North Ayrshire during the construction phase and 1000 technical posts once up and running. This would be a huge boost for our local economy, particularly with the Hunterston facility having closed its doors for the last time.

“If Nicola Sturgeon won’t speak up and support jobs for North Ayrshire, it is vital for local MPs and MSPs to do so instead. With that in mind I’ll be writing to the area’s local SNP representatives to urge them to clarify their party’s position on whether or not they support vital jobs and investment for North Ayrshire.”

Mr Greene will be following this up by writing to the area’s local SNP MP and MSP to ascertain whether or not they support those jobs for their constituents.

However, Irvine-based SNP MSP Ruth Maguire said she is open to further engagement with the council and UKAEA.

She said: “My long-standing opposition to Nuclear technologies is well documented. However, fusion power, which is being proposed for Ardeer, is different to the fission reactions harnessed in conventional nuclear power plants.

“I welcomed the opportunity to engage with the local authority and UKAEA at a stakeholder meeting last week, regarding the proposals for Ardeer, and was pleased to have the opportunity to learn more about Fusion Forward (Ardeer), the bid for Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP).

“I found the presentations to be interesting and informative and I recognise that there is enthusiasm locally, for this project. There is no doubt about the potential exciting employment opportunities locally and regionally; that a project of this scale could bring. However, after having attended this session, I do still hold some enduring concerns about STEP and so I will continue to engage with experts, to gain further knowledge and understanding.

“Although Ardeer has been shortlisted, as one of five sites in consideration to host the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP). There is, at this juncture, no guarantee that Ardeer, in North Ayrshire, will be the chosen site for the plant location, decided by the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.

“While we await the outcome of the bid, I would take this opportunity to commend the project team on their vision and the case made for bringing a project, of this scale, to Ardeer.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are aware of the Ardeer project’s involvement in the UKAEA’s STEP competition process and are engaging with its partners to understand more about the proposals.

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“The Scottish Government’s position on traditional nuclear fission energy has not changed. We don’t support the building of any new nuclear power stations in Scotland and therefore it will not feature as part of our wider energy strategy review.

“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.

“We will continue to assess any new technologies based on safety, value for consumers, and contribution to Scotland’s low-carbon economy and energy future.”

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