Sturgeon’s independence dream crushed as UK unveils plot to control Scottish energy

SNP 'would be terrified' of independent Scotland says Waiton

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As Ms Sturgeon unveiled SNP’s masterplan for Scottish independence, experts feared that this could result in chaos for the UK’s energy strategy. The North Sea is crucial for the UK’s energy security, as it is both rich in oil and gas reserves, and has an abundance of wind energy that is increasingly being harnessed by large offshore wind farms. However, Westminster will continue to keep a hold over Scotland’s energy strategy and may even develop new nuclear power stations there, despite SNP’s opposition, energy minister Greg Hands has told Express.co.uk. 

He said: “When it comes to energy, we are better working together in terms of those assets, in terms of the oversight regime, in terms of the economies of scale.

“The Government, I really think, we’ve got a very good track record on all matters in relation to energy.

“I think we need to be working better together to deliver particularly on nuclear, to make sure that baseload is there, what we do when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, when we’re not going to be using Hydrocarbons.

“Where is our energy baseload going to be coming from – nuclear is a big part of that so I think if we can work better together on nuclear, that would be quite helpful.”

Mr Hands said energy was a “good policy” to have reserved for Westminster because “the Government is delivering for the whole of the UK and delivering for Scotland.”

The latest Scottish Government energy strategy, which was published in 2017, made clear that the administration opposes nuclear power “under current technology”.

Most recently, Ms Sturgeon also said her administration’s policy on traditional nuclear energy “has not and will not change”, insisting that it would not be included in their wider energy strategy review, due to be published later this year.

Even though energy policy is reserved for Westminister, the Scottish Government can effectively veto any plans to build reactions in Scotland through planning regulations.

Mr Hands stressed they weren’t in “the business of forcing” the Scottish Government to accept nuclear power, however, he urged Ms Sturgeon to reconsider the SNP’s “ideological opposition” to nuclear power in light of the energy crisis that is currently gripping UK households.

He added: “What I would like to see though is the Scottish Government changing its approach by persuasion, they do hold quite a few of the levers although energy is reserved, planning is devolved.

“Clearly nuclear power plants and elements of them would need planning permissions and so on so it’s very hard to do it without support from the Scottish Government.

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“So I’m hoping that we can persuade the Scottish Government.

“Scotland’s got an amazing nuclear tradition, it’s had some of the best, most productive, efficient, safe nuclear power plants anywhere in the world.”

Additional reporting by Richard Percival.

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