I REFER to the article “Public told half truths over nuclear fusion plan, say anti-nuclear campaign groups” (Aug 7), which refers to the misleading information being spread about the proposed nuclear fusion project in Ardeer in North Ayrshire – one of five shortlisted sites in the UK for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) project.

In March 2021 the BBC reported on a bid to the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) supported by Highland Council, stating that £222 million was available and suggesting the project could be bring “significant long-term economic benefits,” but the bid was turned down by the UKAEA in October 2021.

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There was no reference to many of the facts surrounding nuclear fusion which HANT (Highlands Against Nuclear Transport) pointed out at the time:

i) Attempts to make nuclear fusion work have been ongoing since the 1920s. It is often referred to as “the technology of the future and always will be”. A recent experiment produced 11 megawatts over five seconds – enough to power one average home for a year!

ii) It is claimed that nuclear fusion will create no waste but in fact there is a greater volume of waste than with nuclear fission, and although less radioactive it will still require long-term storage and the UK is no closer to building a Deep Geological Repository.

iii) Any nuclear fusion project requires qualified nuclear engineers, and there is regular interaction between nuclear expertise related to nuclear weapons and civil nuclear. There are risks of proliferation and contravention of the SNP government’s no-nuclear-energy policy.

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HANT calls on the UK Government to divert the £346m being spent on nuclear fusion research to urgently needed development of renewable technologies which require investment, such as the huge tidal and wave resources existing around Scotland’s coastline.

HANT supports Ayrshire CND’s concerns about the safety of nuclear fusion due to the use of tritium (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen) and concerns that would create a considerable carbon footprint. North Ayrshire Council, which is led by an SNP minority administration, needs to rethink its support for the project – as does Patricia Gibson, SNP MP for North Ayrshire & Arran, who has welcomed the bid.

Nuclear fusion, despite the unfounded claims of its supporters, will make no contribution to reducing carbon emissions or producing electricity and it would take at least 18 years to build a plant.

Also of extreme concern is the announcement in June by the UK science minister George Freeman that he would be introducing legislation to exclude fusion energy facilities from nuclear regulatory and licensing requirements, making it easier for nuclear fusion projects to be approved.

A local coalition of environmental groups is campaigning to have the Ardeer Peninsula designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, to ensure the Scottish Government’s commitment to protecting 30% of Scottish land for nature by 2030 would take precedence over a project which has little prospect of success, will cost taxpayers an estimated £4.9m and will result in up to 160,000 tons of radioactive material with a decay time of up to 500 years – not a legacy Scotland needs.

Tor Justad
Chairperson, Highlands Against Nuclear Transport

WITH Scotland already producing nearly 100% power from renewable sources and at a fraction of the cost of nuclear fission or fusion, there is no economic justification for this project. The money saved should be invested in storage, which itself might be unnecessary when the vast tidal energy sources are tapped.

No, I think this is Westminster-driven, forcing scotland to accept megabucks pointless projects to avoid paying “consequentials” that we’d spend on more worthwhile things. Quite clever, really.

Peter Bilsland
via thenational.scot