SCOTLAND has been urged to look to Scandinavia and ensure that nuclear power plays a role in the country’s energy production.

Torness Power Station, Scotland’s last operational nuclear plant, is due to close in 2028, with no plans for a replacement.

Decontamination work is due to take several years at the facility, near Dunbar, but Martin Whitfield, South Scotland MSP, has called on the Scottish Government to reconsider the move to close and not replace it.

He pointed to Sweden’s decision to reverse the phase-out of its nuclear power and instead explore building new nuclear reactors as part of a low-carbon energy mix.

The issue was raised in a question to Michael Matheson MSP, the cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport, at last week’s Portfolio Questions at Holyrood.

East Lothian’s former MP pointed out that Sweden’s energy production was currently considerably cleaner than Scotland’s and its electricity sector carbon emissions were among the lowest in the EU.

'Just plain bad policy'

Mr Whitfield said: “The Swedish government’s decision to fully reverse its nuclear phase-out and instead explore expanding its nuclear output in order to help meet its climate targets further exposes the shortcomings of the Scottish Government’s opposition to nuclear power.

“This is just plain bad policy, because nuclear is a key part of our energy production now and has the potential to remain so well into the future.

“Other nations value its contribution to tackling the climate emergency and rightly view it as an important part of a proper mix and balance of low-carbon energy sources.

“The proportion of electricity generated by nuclear power in Scotland is currently around 30 per cent of our total output.

“It is reliable baseload production which is critical to our energy security.

“Additionally, we already have significant knowledge and expertise on nuclear, built up over decades of operating nuclear power stations.

“It’s time for the Scottish Government to drop its dogmatic opposition to nuclear and take a fresh look at how it can contribute to our low-carbon energy mix, as well as help sustain important skilled jobs and apprenticeships and support local economies.”

'Ramping up renewables'

Sweden’s six nuclear power reactors currently produce 40 per cent of its electricity.

In 1980, the Swedish government decided to phase out nuclear but in June 2010 the parliament reversed this policy.

In the Scottish Parliament last week, Mr Matheson said: “Our position on traditional fission nuclear power has not changed since we set out the energy strategy, which is out for consultation at the moment.

“We have set out very clearly how we will meet our energy needs between now and 2045.

“We will do that by ramping up our renewable energy alongside the use of new technologies, such as carbon capture and other sources of storage, which are all starting to develop and progress in Scotland.

“That will provide us with the capacity that we will require for our energy needs going forward.

“I cannot comment on the position that Sweden has taken on these matters but perhaps the member wants to look at what is happening here and now in Scotland. For example, more than 60 per cent of our electricity comes from renewable sources.

“There are times when that number is significantly higher.

“We want to build on that good progress and make sure that we get the economic benefits that go along with it.”