THE UK Government has reportedly abandoned efforts to force Scotland to accept nuclear energy.

Nuclear minister Andrew Bowie said Westminster was not “engaging in a fight” with the Scottish Government over its long-held stance against nuclear power.

The West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP insisted nuclear power was “safe” and said the SNP were being “held hostage” by the anti-atomic Greens in an interview with The Herald.

He said: “It's a Luddite mentality frankly.

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“It is quite incredible that the Scottish Government, the Scottish National Party, the Greens as well, want to restrict the development of this technology, which by the way is clean, it's safe, it's proven, we were world leaders in it when it was first developing.

“It has helped keep the lights on in this country, frankly, for the last 70 years.

"It creates high-skilled high-wage jobs in areas of the country, which frankly because of geography are traditionally not economically prosperous.”

Bowie added: “Planning is, however, devolved. The Scottish Government has taken a policy decision that they don't want and will not give planning permission for new nuclear facilities in Scotland.

“That is their decision. I regret it but we're not engaging in a fight with them. We're pressing on with our great British nuclear ambitions down south.

“When we have a Scottish Conservative government in Holyrood, then we will be able to proceed at pace and development nuclear in Scotland.”

Asked about arguments made by SNP ministers against nuclear power on cost grounds, Bowie insisted it was “a ridiculous thing to say”.

He added: “It's a Luddite mentality because they are being held hostage by an anti-nuclear Green party.

“It's nothing to do with cost. It's an ideological position that has been adopted.

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“Look, there's a lot of money involved, especially right now, because, frankly, we're starting afresh after about 20 or 30 years of not investing in nuclear.”

And he said “thank God” oil and gas licencing remained under Westminster control, claiming the Scottish Government would “shut off oil and gas tomorrow”.

He told the paper: “Thank God it is reserved to the UK Government.

“Frankly, thank goodness licensing is a reserved function because the Scottish National Party and the Green Party would shut off oil and gas tomorrow, we'd put high-skilled workers, specifically in the north of Scotland on the scrap heap.”

SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan responded saying: "Nuclear, in current technologies, will never present value for money and it has an environment price tag that takes decades, even longer, to clean up. 

"So strategically, we do have to move away from hydrocarbons that are incompatible - unlimited extraction is incompatible with net zero. 

"But we have to invest in our future energy mix on the basis of renewables and hydrogen."