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Dounreay union official says nuclear should be part of energy mix

By Gordon Calder

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A CAITHNESS trade union official has claimed nuclear power stations should be part of the country's future energy mix.

John Deighan, the branch secretary of the Unite union at Dounreay, expressed his view at a reception held by Trudy Harrison, the Conservative MP for Copeland in west Cumbria. The event, which was attended by politicians and union representatives, took place in the House of Commons.

Speakers, who included Tom Greatrex, the chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Peter McIntosh, Unite national officer, and Justin Bowden, the national secretary of the GMB, talked about the future of the nuclear industry.

Afterwards, Mr Deighan said: "The key message from all the speakers was that the UK requires to maintain its highly skilled workforce and commit to building new nuclear power stations as an integral part of our energy mix for the future and to ensure we meet our climate change targets. Its also vitally important that we continue with our recruitment and training programmes in our decommissioning facilities as these valuable skills will be required for generations to come."

The event followed a Westminster debate, secured by Mrs Harrison, which discussed the future role of small modular reactors.

Supporters of nuclear energy claim these reactors – manufactured in factories, assembled on site and capable of producing up to 300 megawatts of electric power – could be the way forward for the industry.

Those behind the technology say modular reactors allow for less on-site construction, increased containment efficiency, and heightened nuclear materials security. They have been proposed as a less expensive alternative to conventional nuclear reactors.

Several designs exist, ranging from scaled down versions of existing nuclear reactors to new generation formats.

Opponents, however, claim they unsafe, expensive and unlikely to be built anywhere in the world.

As previously reported, a motion to try and make the Highlands a nuclear-free zone was defeated by 46 to 13 votes.

The motion, discussed at a Highland Council meeting last month, prompted an angry response from local councillors with one describing it as “absolute stupidity”. Another said it was “short-sighted and overtly political”.

Councillor Struan Mackie said the motion was "ill-judged" and "ill-timed" and called on the Scottish Government to rethink its "outright objection" to new nuclear plants.

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