Nuclear row breaks out between Labour and SNP over job losses at Hunterston atom power plant

Hunterston B nuclear power station.
Hunterston B nuclear power station.

A political row over nuclear power and jobs at the Hunterston atom plant near Largs, Ayrshire, has erupted between Labour and SNP MSPs.

The North Ayrshire Labour group has raised concerns regarding the future of 750 highly skilled jobs at the power station with the impending closure of the nuclear power station in 2023. 

Speaking in Largs, Jackie Baillie, MSP, Labour’s spokesman on the economy, said that the Scot-Govt is failing to “safeguard employment of around 750 high skill and high wage jobs at Hunterston whilst North Ayrshire continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

“The SNP are presiding over a total lack of investment in Ayrshire with no strategic vision for the future and the decline of Hunterston as a national asset.”

Cunninghame North Labour Secretary Scott Wilson added: “Jackie Baillie’s support for Hunterston is welcome news and is in complete contrast with the SNP’s hypocrisy in seeking to close the power station and refusing to countenance its replacement whilst simultaneously supporting its continued operation – necessary to maintain low carbon power supplies to the nation.

“Labour continues to support a balanced energy policy that embraces all forms of low carbon generation – including nuclear – and wants to support the maintenance of the existing skills and technical expertise that exists in Scotland in the nuclear sector while the SNP want to discard the workforce and create a massive hole in our local economy”.

In reply, Kenneth Gibson, SNP MP for Cunninghame North, later said that new-nuclear would be ‘astronomically expensive’ and that jobs will continue at Hunterston B Power Station – which is owned by the French state nuclear operator EDF – for ‘decades to come due to decommissioning’.

He added: “Whether one supports new nuclear in Scotland or not is no longer primarily a political issue but an economic one. The SNP has supported Hunterston’s continued operation throughout our 11 years in government.

“We do not support new nuclear facilities, believing that renewables are the future. In any case, nuclear power is now so astronomically expensive, relative to other forms of energy that there are no plans to build a new plant in Scotland.

“Jobs will continue at Hunterston B for decades to come, with decommissioning, likely to start in the middle of the next decade.”

18 Apr 2018

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