Environment

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:52 pm on 21st February 2007.

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Photo of Rob Gibson Rob Gibson Scottish National Party 4:52 pm, 21st February 2007

I might let the minister in later. I want to develop my point about costs.

The Executive has simply not factored into its equation the fact that we will not know the total costs of the nuclear industry until the clean-up is complete. Under the model that the UK Government has put together, with the Scottish Executive's agreement, the decommissioning of Dounreay will be paid for by a programme that is quite simply flawed. For example, it relies partly on money from reprocessing at Sellafield. It is ridiculous to suggest that we can use the proceeds from producing waste to clean up other waste and, indeed, such a proposal jeopardises the proper decommissioning work at Dounreay. If the 500 jobs at Dounreay are lost—I stress that I am not scaremongering, because I do not think that that will happen—it will be a major blow not only to that economy but to a workforce that, after carrying out a smooth decommissioning, could use its skills to harness new energy sources.

That clean-up, which is at the very heart of the nuclear equation, could cost a heck of a lot more money. However, we do not know how much more. In fact, the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency does not even know the answer to that question. In a letter that we have received, the agency says:

"Although the individual plans are extremely detailed, there is still a significant degree of inherent uncertainty in the future cost estimates that underpin the nuclear provisions."

That suggests that the costs of decommissioning could be far beyond our current estimate of £70 million to £90 million. That enormous amount of money, which could be used to develop renewable energy, will be wasted.

Many negative remarks have been made in the debate. Members responded to our motion as if our targets were not ambitious and as if our proposals did not represent a sensible, safe and responsible approach for Scotland. Alex Johnstone even complained about the fact that we were having a nuclear debate. The Tories had a nuclear debate last year, so what is the problem with our having one?

In a typical example of negative Liberal campaigning, Nora Radcliffe said that the terms of our motion were quite right, but then told the chamber that she will not vote for it. As for the Labour Party, it cannot talk about facing both ways. The front bench says yes to nuclear energy, whereas Maureen Macmillan says no. Labour members are totally split on the way forward. In response to Maureen Macmillan's rant, there has been no attempt to take the Scottish people with us down the nuclear road—