Nuclear must be part of UK energy mix, says Labour

The comments come ahead of a visit to Glasgow by Sir Keir Starmer and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

11 April 2022

Nuclear power must form part of the UK’s future energy mix to provide a long-term solution to rising bills, Labour has said.

Ahead of a visit on Tuesday, both Sir Keir Starmer and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar have talked up the use of nuclear energy to ease the cost-of-living crisis in the long term.

In a letter to Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Mr Sarwar also urged the UK Government to support proposals for a nuclear energy station in North Ayrshire.

The importance of the Spherical Tokamak For Energy Production (Step) project proposed for Ardeer can “not be overstated”, Mr Sarwar said in his letter.

Prices are expected to rise following an increase to the energy cap and pressure caused to global gas costs due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ahead of a campaign visit with the Scottish Labour leader in Glasgow for the local council elections, Sir Keir said: “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.”

Mr Sarwar added: “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 £1,000 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.”

Approval and development of the site in Ardeer, Mr Sarwar said in his letter to the Energy Secretary, would help to reverse “the long-term impacts of industrial decline, selecting the Ardeer site would signal a crucial commitment by the UK Government to the importance of developing Scotland’s economic potential as we transition to net zero”.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said they were engaging partners of the Ardeer project 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,” she added.

“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.”

Scottish Tory energy spokesman Liam Kerr said Labour had “no credibility” on energy matters as long as it continued to support an end to North Sea oil and gas extraction.

Last month, Mr Sarwar said the UK should not forget the need to “save our planet” despite risks to energy security.

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