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Jackson Carlaw (Conservative)
It has proved to be a reliable source of sustained power delivery to Scotland over many years and has a role to play in the future.
We recognise the expertise that Scotland has in the area. The Government should be brave enough to acknowledge that although its motion welcomes the job opportunities that are associated with the new technologies, its repudiation of our nuclear capability, as well as being unwise, quite unnecessarily puts at risk tens of thousands of Scottish jobs. I accept that the whole debate about the rights and wrongs of having nuclear weapons as part of our defence capability is legitimate and of enormous significance, and that it can have a moral dimension. However, what is moral about hoping that the rest of the United Kingdom—or Europe, for that matter—will compensate for our folly if we abandon a nuclear power capability? What is moral about potentially leaving many future generations and elderly people in Scotland without sufficient power?
My amendment does not require the development of an ultimate replacement. In practice, it is probable that EDF Energy's capacity to progress the four new nuclear power stations elsewhere in the United Kingdom cannot accommodate a further new station at this time. There is no immediate need to commission a new nuclear station—that can wait. Of much more immediate concern is an extension of the life of our existing capability.
I confirm that we will support the amendments in the names of Liam McArthur and Sarah Boyack, although I was more impressed with the wording than with the moving of her amendment. However, we will vote against the entirely predictable and charming, if characteristically batty, amendment in the name of Patrick Harvie.
The difference between us is that, for the Government, its motion is the final word, the complete vision and the only way forward. The Government's plan is romantic, is not without vision and is not lacking ambition, but it is in a rush not just to embrace risk but to rely on it. That is an abdication of common sense, duty and our moral responsibility. Scottish Conservatives do not present our amendment as an alternative strategy but as one that is wholly complementary. I urge the chamber to endorse it today.
I move amendment S3M-7047.1, to insert at end:
"; further notes the conclusion of the report, Scotland's Generation Advantage, produced for the Scottish Government, that the scheduled closure of Hunterston B and Torness means that Scotland will lose a significant volume of low-carbon power, and therefore considers that the extension or ultimate replacement of Scotland's nuclear
Liam McArthur (Orkney) (LD): >Earlier the minister accused me of pessimism. I will start by dispelling that notion. If the debate can lay credible claim to having prompted the flurry of announcements yesterday and today, it has already served a useful purpose.
Especially pleasing, as the minister and others have acknowledged, was Ofgem's announcement yesterday that it will undertake a "comprehensive and open" review of the current network charging regime. That is long overdue, although I fully accept—as Lewis Macdonald will point out—that it will not be an easy or straightforward task. Compromises will be necessary, and there are elements of the current system that we would not wish to lose as part of that process, not least to ensure that we maintain our focus on tackling fuel poverty.
However, a system that is specifically designed to incentivise the siting of generation plants close to centres of demand is no longer in keeping with the policy objectives that successive Governments north and south of the border have set. The current locational signals also fail to recognise that much of the natural resource that we need to harness if we are to achieve our emissions reduction, renewables generation and wider climate change targets is to be found in remoter parts of the country and around our coasts, including in my constituency.
Ofgem's announcement also gives further credence to today's claim by Scottish Renewables that Scotland should be revising upwards its 2020 target for renewable electricity generation. I welcome Jim Mather's commitment to extend the target to 80 per cent, although that perhaps kills off Ayrshire Power's plans at Hunterston. The language that Ofgem used in its announcement suggests that it is alive to the new realities. I note that Scottish Renewables credited my colleague Chris Huhne with having taken the lead by providing Ofgem with
"the high-level outcomes that the regime needs to promote."