Sturgeon risks leaving Scotland behind on climate action with independence obsession

Nicola Sturgeon hits back at question about her future

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The First Minister reiterated her opposition to nuclear power as a tool in the net zero crusade on Wednesday after being pressed by Labour to consider it as an alternative to fossil fuels. She refused to back nuclear power at First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood, saying: “Renewables, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage provides the best pathway to net zero by 2045 and will deliver the decarbonisation we need to see across industry, heat and transport.

“We believe that nuclear power represents poor value for consumers.”

These comments come just weeks after the COP26 climate change conference was held on Ms Sturgeon’s home turf in Glasgow.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary Net Zero, Energy and Transport Liam Kerr MSP told Express.co.uk that the First Minister has failed to really implement the essence of what was discussed in Glasgow.

Reflecting on the achievements of COP26, Mr Kerr said: “The Glasgow Pact was a historic moment that will pave the way to net zero and could crucially signal the end of coal power.

“Despite Nicola Sturgeon’s efforts to be centre of attention during COP26, she can’t hide from the SNP Government’s poor record on the environment – not least their failure to meet emissions targets for three years running.”

He points to the drive for a second independence referendum in Scotland as a factor in Scotland falling behind in cleaner energy generation.

He said: “The UK has spent the last decade making great strides as a world leader in tackling climate change, while Scotland lags behind as the SNP obsess over independence and their grievances with the union.”

Scotland has two nuclear power stations generating electricity, both of which are owned by French energy company EDF.

Hunterston B in West Kilbride and Torness Nuclear Power Station in East Lothian are both scheduled to be shut down in the next few years.

The First Minister, citing Hinkley Point C, the over-budget nuclear power station being built in Somerset, commented: “ I think we’ve got to invest in the energy sources that will get us to net zero, but also deliver the best deal for the taxpayers and for energy consumers.

“Nuclear power is a really bad deal for the bill payer and that’s before we take account of the fact that waste is incredibly difficult to deal with.”

According to the Scottish government: “Scotland has a long history of nuclear research and electricity generation.

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“Nuclear energy accounted for 42.8% of electricity generated in Scotland in 2016.”

Mr Kerr, picking up on this, remarked: “Nuclear energy plays an important role in meeting Scotland’s energy demands.

“The Scottish Conservatives want to know how the First Minister plans to fulfil Scotland’s energy demands in the absence of the next generation of nuclear power stations.

“The future of thousands of Scottish jobs in the nuclear sector remains uncertain unless, and until, the SNP spell out their plans.

Adding that hydrogen power could also help nudge Scotland towards net zero commitments, he said: “With commitment from the UK Government through their investment of nearly £10 million in projects like Whitelee Windfarm, Scotland is well placed to become a leading hydrogen producer.

“But the SNP Government must work with their UK counterparts or there is a threat to Scotland being left behind.”

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