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‘Toxic distraction’: Anger as Ian Murray refuses to rule out Scottish nuclear plants

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‘Toxic distraction’: Anger as Ian Murray refuses to rule out Scottish nuclear plants

It comes after Scottish Secretary Ian Murray repeatedly refused to say that his Labour government would not override devolution and build new nuclear plants in Scotland.

As it stands, planning is devolved to Holyrood and the SNP government opposes new nuclear projects – but Murray suggested Labour would do what they had to in order to fulfill manifesto pledges which include new nuclear plants.

“This is really, really important,” he said. “We have a mandate for our manifesto.

“Our manifesto contains some really bold missions and policies that will transform the country, create jobs and make the cost of living crisis better for people in the longer term. And we have to make sure we can deliver those.”

Scottish Secretary Ian Murray previously claimed to be a lifelong opponent of nuclear

Responding, Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman said that “more nuclear power would leave a legacy of debt and radioactive waste for generations to come”.

She went on: “Backing it is not just an expensive and toxic distraction, it undermines our journey to 100% renewable energy.

“The Scottish Greens made it clear in our manifesto that we would object to any new nuclear energy in Scotland. Nuclear is not a financially sensible option, nor is it legitimately safe.

“Scotland already produces a majority of our energy from clean, green sources, and we have so much potential to go further.

“What we need from this new Labour government is investment to rapidly expand our green industries, deliver 100% renewable energy and secure jobs for communities in the North East.”

READ MORE: ‘You have blood on your hands’: Ian Murray heckled as he wins Edinburgh seat

Labour have repeatedly pledged to establish a publicly owned energy investment company called GB Energy, which they say will be based in Scotland and help to drive down people’s bills.

Lynn Jamieson, the chair of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND), spoke out against further nuclear projects.

She said: “All forms of nuclear power involve environmental harm in the toxic process of uranium mining and the legacy of nuclear waste.

“Generating energy this way is more expensive financially and far more fraught with risks to humans and the environment than renewables.

“The UK Government needs a nuclear power industry to help prop up the nuclear weapons industry. Both put targets on our backs and create potential terrible harm to the rest of the world.”

Murray has previously claimed that “the moral case against [nuclear weapons] is overwhelming”.

READ MORE: Airbnb landlord Ian Murray made thousands renting out Edinburgh flat

In 2015, he said that if the SNP were “truly interested in pressurising the Government [to drop nuclear] then they would make sure they had lifelong unilateralists like me on board”.

Murray is now Scottish Secretary in the UK Government, and stood on a manifesto with an explicit commitment to maintain the UK’s nuclear weapons stockpile and expand its nuclear energy capabilities.

In 2022, the Tory-run UK Government said it would not overrule Scottish ministers to build a new nuclear plant north of the Border, despite at the time also considering building a nuclear plant in Ayrshire.

In 2024, former Scottish secretary Alister Jack told the Lords Constitution Committee that he had asked the Department for Energy and Net Zero to plan for a nuclear reactor to be built in Scotland as part of a UK-wide programme.

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