21 Jan 2022: Holyrood considers energy u-turn to back fusion plan
The SNP government resistance to nuclear energy could be relaxed in order to support a proposed fusion energy plant for the west coast of Scotland. The 100-hectare site on the Ardeer peninsula is Scotland’s biggest brownfield site and is one of five locations across the UK being considered for the multi-billion pound project that would create clean carbon-free energy and a ‘significant’ number of jobs.
Responding to questions media about Scottish Government support for the project Catriona McAuley, head of economic development and regeneration at North Ayrshire Council said: “The SNP government is reviewing their energy policy and I would like to think the conversations we are having now will certainly be informing that refresh of Scottish government energy policy. They are obviously very interested in the work we are doing and want to be kept informed.”
Joe Cullinane, Labour leader of North Ayrshire Council, added that discussions were taking place with members of other local authorities. “Some of these are SNP council leaders which I think is a significant point in terms of cross-party political support and another point which could be a big advantage for Ardeer if the Scottish government energy review does come out in favour of fusion energy is that the other four sites are in England so the Ardeer site is the only one that has a devolved government as well. With the support of the devolved government as well as the UK government you could bring additional resources to the table. So it would very advantageous to Ardeer and the Scottish economy if we were able to secure support from the Scottish government for fusion energy through that energy review.”
Leon Flexman, the strategic adviser to the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s programme, said one site will be recommended to the UK Business and Energy Secretary in the spring of 2022 with expectations that it will be announced at the end of the year. He said the intention is to take the project from the laboratory stage to a commercial prototype.
A rare partnership of four universities and a number of further education colleges are providing support to the Ardeer team.