Sarwar: Scotland should invest in nuclear energy to cut bills in long term

The Scottish Labour leader will be joined by Keir Starmer in Glasgow on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Anas Sarwar says Scotland should invest in nuclear energy to cut bills in long term STV NewsGetty Images

Scotland should invest in nuclear energy projects in a bid to provide a long term solution to rising bills, Labour has said. 

Ahead of a visit to Glasgow on Tuesday, UK Labour leader Keir Starmer and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said using nuclear energy could ease the cost-of-living crisis in the long term. 

It comes as plans for eight new reactors were announced in England and Wales but not in Scotland, with UK business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng saying it was “a devolved affair”.

Scotland’s sole nuclear power station is situated in East Lothian after the Hunterston B site in North Ayrshire was closed in January. 

Proposals for a new nuclear fusion plant at Ardeer in North Ayrshire have been tabled, with the local council adding it would produce “safe, clean energy to help the fight against climate change”.

However, the Scottish Government said it wished to focus on renewables, storage, hydrogen and carbon capture in a bid for the country to become net zero by 2045. 

Scotland’s energy secretary Michael Matheson perviously stated that the Scottish Government was opposed to new nuclear power stations on environmental grounds, due to safety concerns and because “it is probably the most expensive form of electricity you can choose to produce”.

In a letter to Kwarteng, Sarwar urged the UK Government to support proposals for the Ardeer energy station.

It comes as bills continue to rise due to the increased energy cap and pressure caused to global gas costs due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Glasgow, Sarwar said: “Bills are going up, petrol prices are up, and neither the SNP or the Tories are serious about the action that need to be taken to bring bills down long term. 

“Scottish Labour have a plan that could give people over £1000 in support to deal with the short term crisis. 

“But 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. 

“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.” 

Starmer added: “Both the SNP and the Tories need to get their act together when it 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. 

“Neither of Scotland’s governments have a plan to cut bills, deliver energy independence, or tackle the climate crisis. Labour would deliver a green energy sprint, while the SNP and Tories dither and delay.” 

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.

“We believe that 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.

“The transition to net zero will offer many new opportunities for highly skilled, well paid jobs across the energy sector for industry experts, apprentices and graduates. Scotland has long been the centre of expertise in energy innovation and this expertise will prove crucial as we work to capture the opportunities the transition to a net zero economy presents.

“We recognise that planning will be crucial to ensure that economic and social opportunities from the transition are not missed. Our National Just Transition Planning framework sets out the consistent, ambitious approach we will take to developing transition plans.

“We have committed to delivering our first Just Transition Plan as part of the forthcoming refreshed Scottish Energy Strategy, and will work in partnership with businesses, workers and communities to ensure this provides the certainty needed for investment in our net zero journey.”