WHAT will the story of Scotland’s phasing out of nuclear energy say? When Torness began production in 1988 it was our third nuclear power plant, the other two being Hunterston A and B. The Torness site was chosen with space for a future Torness B.
The Advanced Gas-Cooler Reactor (AGR) Torness technology was the best of its time, engineered right here in Scotland. But fearful governments of all colors, a point underlined by Doug Maughan (Letters, February 18), have turned away from nuclear power for… what?
No other power generation system is as climate-friendly or environmentally friendly as nuclear. Yet we turn away from it. The clue, to which Mr. Maughan alludes, remains the popular confusion between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.
So Scotland not only lost the ability to design and build AGR plants – or whatever technology is best today – but by the early 1990s we had given up interest in the sites of future nuclear power stations , such as Chapeldonan near Girvan, and another near Banff. on the Moray coast.
Is nuclear power dangerous? Over 30 years ago I remember the Torness station manager telling me that the greatest danger in Torness came from the A1 outside the station. His memorable words were, “Two cars approaching at 60 miles per hour are only separated by a white line painted on the road.”
As if he hadn’t made his point, he then pointed to the row of manuals above his desk describing safety procedures for each step of the nuclear power generation and maintenance process. On the opposite wall was a chart outlining the continuing professional development programs for each staff member.
The Scottish government is failing us by turning a blind eye to nuclear power and the research, development and jobs that come with it.
I’m fine, Jock, because by the time a blackout precedes the first blackout, I won’t be here. But my grandchildren will.
Gordon Casely, Crathes.
WE NEED TO WATCH THE EXPERTS
I REFER to Doug Maughan’s informed letter regarding the Scottish Government’s failure to build nuclear power stations. The topic arose out of a justified concern about energy costs, but readers may not be aware that there is an even bigger issue, and that is the security of our electricity supply. It is seriously compromised by the loss of system inertia provided by Torness and Hunterston. This means that there is a growing risk of a total collapse of the power grid. What makes the situation even more worrying is that wind generation cannot provide the necessary inertia and the more we depend on the wind, the greater the risk of a prolonged electricity blackout.
System stability is a complex electrical engineering topic that our advanced society absolutely relies on. Unfortunately, this is difficult to understand and it is certainly not a topic that concerns all private investment companies and institutions looking to profit from wind subsidies. What we need is a government that properly focuses on the real risks to the future well-being of our country. It is clearly unwise to rely solely on the judgment of politicians, especially those with a simplistic understanding of the technology on which the supply of electricity depends. The Scottish Government’s unwavering belief in wind energy as our savior is misleading the public. It comes from irresponsible trust in vested interests and misplaced trust in skills they don’t have.
We need nuclear not only to contain energy costs, but also for a reliable supply. References to wind costs that undercut nuclear are totally misleading. They do not include system integration costs and the continued absolute reliance on gas to make up the shortfall. The figures quoted by Michael Matheson for Hinkley Point C as well as a wind CFD of £39.65/MWhr, while some of the latest CFD contracts for offshore wind are over £150 and the current figures for nuclear are below £50 illustrates how lacking the knowledge required of an energy minister.
We urgently need a fully independent, professional Energy Authority with the appropriate skills to lead government policy. Today’s preoccupation with independence is akin to “fiddling while Rome burns”.
Norman McNab, Killearn.
SCOTLAND PAID THE HIGH PRICE
IN 2020, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority offered Westminster a rough estimate of the cost of decommissioning obsolete Magnox and AGR reactors in the UK. His best estimate was around £132bn.
However, this figure becomes absurd when combined with the other part of their projection – that the process will take at least 120 years. Simply put, the true monetary costs of nuclear energy – construction, maintenance, downtime for breakdowns and repairs, dismantling and disposal of waste – show that it is absolutely unprofitable. Magnox and AGR were nuclear experiments; they are abandoned for very good reasons.
The nuclear industry has chosen Scotland for its most dangerous experiments and we witness the other – more devastating – costs of this technology. Caithness recently learned that the land around Dounreay would not be safely usable for 300 years. Sepa also apparently decided some time ago that trying to recover more potentially deadly particles of spent nuclear fuel from the seabed off Dounreay was neither feasible nor advisable. The particles were first discovered – and kept secret – in 1983.
Scotland should reject any attempt to impose new nuclear experiments – small, large, fission or fusion – on any part of our country. We have already paid a terrible price for Westminster’s deadly banter with technology that doesn’t work and whose real bills – monetary, environmental and health – will probably never be paid.
Frances McKie, Evanton.
VOTERS ADMIRE OUR PRIME MINISTER
STEPH Johnson (Letters, 18 February) claims that I suggested in my letter of 16 February that ‘everyone in Scotland supports (the SNP) and their endless distraction from independence’. I said no such thing. However, I would like to remind Mrs Johnson that in the Scottish Parliament elections last May, the SNP won 62 constituency seats on a manifesto which pledged to hold an independence referendum, while the three unionist parties grouped together only won 11 constituency seats. I would also direct her to the latest opinion poll from Electoral Calculus (which was the most accurate of the pre-poll predictors of the outcome of the 2019 General Election) which predicts that every Tory MP in Scotland could lose their seat in a General Election , while Sir John Curtice believes that on the basis of this poll the SNP could win 56 or 57 seats out of a quota of 59 for Scotland.
I had to laugh at Ms Johnson’s advice that I should ‘take the trouble to meet other Scots outside of my own separatist circle’. I have campaigned for independence for over half a century, in much of Scotland, from Aberdeen to Ayrshire and from Glasgow to Glenrothes, and although political campaigning has changed over the years , in my old-fashioned view, meeting voters at their doorsteps and hearing their views is the most important aspect of any election campaign.
I was on Falkirk’s doorstep last October during the South Falkirk by-election, won by the SNP, and I will be on other doors during the council’s next election campaign. I find voters appreciate policies such as Scottish Child Payment, baby boxes, free personal care, free childcare and free prescriptions and university tuition. And I can report that even non-SNP voters will admit that Nicola Sturgeon has worked tirelessly throughout the health pandemic and conducted herself with dignity, in stark contrast to the Conservative Prime Minister’s antics at Downing Street.
Ruth Marr, Stirling.
TO A MUCH BETTER PLACE
I read with interest Steph Johnson’s letter in which she sets out a long list of reproaches against the Prime Minister and the Scottish Government.
I would say that with some of his complaints the blame lies firmly with the door of Westminster, some are perhaps a bit dishonest and I concede that some may indeed have some merit; for example, was the Prime Minister right to join many other commentators in condemning the footballer abusing his cat?
I don’t think the word ‘separatist’ is helpful because it creates a negative image perhaps in the same way that trade unionists may not like the term ‘Yoons’.
May I remind Mrs Johnson that around two-thirds of her countrymen voted to stay in the EU and have now been kicked out against their will? This was of course one of the solemn promises of the now much discredited “vow”.
Does she want to continue with Trident, increasing levels of child poverty and food bank use, obscene banker bonuses, industry-wide corruption including cash for honors, PPE fiasco , Money for Questions, Wallpapergate, Partygate and more?
No one is claiming that an independent Scotland will be a land of milk and honey, but we will be in a much better place than we are now.
Stewart Falconer, Alyth.