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Caithness representatives respond to a Glasgow councillor's claims new nuclear lacks support saying the county is being treated 'like a child who should be seen and not heard'


By Scott Maclennan

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Struan Mackie at Forss Wind Farm
Struan Mackie at Forss Wind Farm

An SNP Glasgow councillor and anti-nuclear campaigner has been told to stop treating Caithness “like a child who should be seen and not heard.”

Local representatives could barely contain their fury after Feargal Dalton told far north MP Jamie Stone that there was little support for new nuclear and he should concentrate on green energy.

That sparked local ire for a number of reasons, chiefly that Caithness already has many wind turbines and there is broad support in the county for a new nuclear development.

Lib Dem MP Mr Stone told Mr Dalton: “I suspect that people in the far north will not take kindly to being told what is best for them by a Glasgow SNP councillor. We are already world leaders in green energy in Caithness, exporting clean electricity that powers the central belt and beyond.

“Small modular reactors could very well contribute to that energy mix. Mr Dalton may wish to do his homework before claiming that there is almost no support for new nuclear power in my constituency.”

Conservative Cllr Struan Mackie, who also chairs the Dounreay Stakeholders Group, said: “Mr Dalton’s insulting and factually incorrect comments are not a surprise given his membership of the Nuclear Free Local Authority Group.

"The Highlands takes a particularly dim view of this tin pot pressure group, with the council rejecting membership back in 2019. Instead we chose to stand shoulder to shoulder with nuclear workers and local firms from across the region who deserved to be supported.

“I am proud of my record in standing up for the Dounreay and Vulcan workforce, our world class supply chain and the hundreds of young people that deserve to see opportunities in the place they have grown up.

“In addition to a proud nuclear tradition, we already play a leading role within renewables, from onshore wind, tidal arrays and offshore energy generation.

“It is abundantly clear that the SNP however cannot be trusted. Whilst they obsess about the central belt of Scotland, sitting silent whilst Holyrood relentlessly centralises our frontline services, they simply do not care about nuclear communities.

“This ill-timed and ideologically motivated parroting of the party line is just the tip of the SNP shaped iceberg.”

Independent Cllr Matthew Reiss said: “I have read what Cllr Dalton said, in particular his bizarre comment that the country is quote ‘nearing total self-sufficiency’ from renewable technologies.

“If he had looked at Gridwatch, the patterns of energy consumption over the last few weeks, he will have seen there have been some days when renewable energy, particularly wind power, and nuclear and gas have been the two technologies that have kept the lights on.

“It is just another case of central belt politicians telling the north what is good for them. Caithness in this scenario is the child who should be seen and not heard, because there is clearly a lot of support for new nuclear.

“Cllr Dalton may also not know that Caithness is already making a massive contribution to renewable energy and we are doing it at considerable cost to our beautiful landscapes.

“I am quite sure if we started telling him how to get rid of the plague of rats in Glasgow then he would be justifiably annoyed.”

Cllr Dalton responded, saying: “Having worked in the nuclear sector for many years, I have nothing but the utmost of respect for the expertise and professionalism of those who work in this sector. Mature and respectful debates are happening all across Europe about the best strategic policies on energy generation and combating the climate emergency.

“I am happy to engage in such debates with those who share my views and those who hold other views on this complex matter. As with anything, this will give us the best chance of developing the most effective strategies.

“In Scotland we have barely tapped into our renewable potential. In 2020, over 98 per cent of our energy needs were met through renewable technologies. Further investment in this, alongside carbon capture and storage facilities, will place Scotland in the best position for a sustainable future.

“Disappointingly, the nuclear lobby takes a narrow view on future energy capabilities. Scotland is already a world leader in renewable energy. The future of this sector is extremely bright.”

Related Story – Campaign group insists there is 'almost no public support for new nuclear' and calls on Jamie Stone to think again


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