Environment

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:14 pm on 21st February 2007.

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Photo of Maureen Watt Maureen Watt Scottish National Party 4:14 pm, 21st February 2007

It is the two Maureens. Thank you, Presiding Officer.

As this Blair Government thankfully nears its end, it will be remembered in a negative and discredited way for a few things, not least taking Britain into an illegal war. It will also be surrounded by the suspicion of cash for peerages. The decision by Mr Justice Sullivan just last week must also rank among those scars on our democracy.

As others have said, Greenpeace is to be congratulated in pursuing its legal action and in highlighting the Government's failure to disclose key information on the new generation of nuclear power stations, mostly to do with the disposal of nuclear waste and the financial costs. Alex Johnstone should be reminded that nuclear power meets only 3.6 per cent of our total energy demand. Under any nuclear new-build programme, the first reactor would not come online until 2018 at the earliest, with the main delivery of the programme not happening until around 2025 to 2030. That is not in this generation.

If there was no further delay on the Peterhead carbon capture project, that could be up and running by 2009, at a projected cost of $1 billion. If the minister wants to know, the money for that could come from stopping sending our troops to Iraq, and perhaps also from the nuclear weapons programme.

A 4 per cent saving could also be achieved by insisting on energy conservation measures on the part of housebuilders and businesses, which should make it a priority for their workplaces. It is a relief that the Executive has at last managed to decide to support the wave and tidal industries and to take Scotland another step on the way to becoming a renewable energy powerhouse, confirming the huge potential for carbon-free energy generation that exists around Scotland, rather than allowing projects to go to Portugal.

Perhaps Scottish ministers could now turn their attention to chivvying Gordon Brown into supporting carbon capture technology and to getting behind the Peterhead project. The project will convert natural gas to hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen will be used as clean fuel for a 350MW power station, and the carbon dioxide will be pumped into the North sea oil reservoirs for the purposes of increased oil recovery and, ultimately, storage.

It is disingenuous for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that he has to compare Peterhead with other projects, which are nowhere near as far down the road. Carbon capture and storage clearly have the potential to add to the growth strategy of Scotland and to reduce our CO2 footprint.

Aberdeen, the north and the north-east are clearly ready and willing to be the global energy hub, with the development of the Aberdeen science and energy park, an energy academy and an energy technologies institute all in the pipeline or ready to go. That is exciting news for Scotland, and we do not need nuclear power.