"No new nuclear generators north of the border," says Scottish Government. Electricity Act 1989 gives Hollyrood powers to veto plants

The Scottish Parliament will block any plans to build nuclear power stations in Scotland, the nation’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth said this morning.

“We don’t expect any proposals for new nuclear plants to come forward.” James Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland’ earlier today.

Business minister, John Hutton, today told the House of Commons that nuclear power was “tried and tested,” safe and affordable. It means the UK Government will go ahead with replacement of the UK’s nuclear power stations after years of uncertainty. The last of the UK’s current reactors is due to be decommissioned in 2035.

Under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989, a Secretary of State has the powers to block the construction, extension or operation of a power station above 50 megawatts.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said that Scotland has a: “Clear policy of not wanting or needing new power stations in Scotland.”

But Alistair Smith, director of nuclear services at Parsons Brinckerhoff, said: "It's an interesting point of view the SNP has given that 50% of Scotland's power currently comes from nuclear.

"With [Scottish nuclear power stations] Hunterson B to close in 2011 and Torness to close in 2023, Scotland will have to find 60% of it's power from somewhere. I know they are currently planning to do that with wind power ... It's lucky that they will be plugged into the National Grid for when the wind's not blowing."

Greenpeace to appeal again

The Government is expecting a long legal battle to gain approval for its nuclear plans having already lost a challenge about a previous public consultation to Greenpeace. It wants to double amount of power that Britain gets from nuclear power from 20 to 40% but construction is not expected to begin for five years.

Under populist First Minister, Alex Salmond, Edinburgh, is diverging from Westminster on an increasing number of budgetary issues, including reducing class sizes as a matter of urgency, free prescriptions and no university fees.

In a separate announcement, the Government in Westminster said that they would publish a consultation on a draft Strategic Siting Assessment criteria in March/April 2008, ruling out areas of the country in which there are no suitable sites and establishnig a framework for assessing the suitability of proposed sites.

"The SNP is probably right that few proposals will come forward," Smith said. "Scotland is not a particularly lucrative place to build power stations anyway. Most people will be bidding for places like Sizewell B in the South where the loads are higher."