THE UK Government is considering plans to build a nuclear reactor in Scotland despite fierce opposition from the SNP and planning being devolved.

Detailing that he expected a “Unionist regime” to be in power in Scotland by 2026, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack told a Westminster committee he has asked ministers at the Department for Energy and Net Zero to plan for a nuclear reactor to be built in Scotland as part of a UK-wide programme.

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said the move shows how Westminster thinks Scotland is a country that should “get in line and know its place”.

He insisted the country does not need “expensive” nuclear power when it has “abundant” natural energy resources.

A UK Government source told STV News a Scottish nuclear reactor had been “part of our thinking for some time”.

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Kwasi Kwarteng made headlines across the country in 2022 after he said the Tory government had “no plans to impose nuclear reactors in Scotland”.

However, despite Kwarteng’s comments, the UK Government confirmed later it was still considering whether to select Ardeer in North Ayrshire as the site on which to build a prototype nuclear fusion energy plant. The project ended up being awarded to a rival site in Nottinghamshire.

Jack appeared on Wednesday morning before the Lords Constitution Committee, and was being questioned by Labour peer George Foulkes, who said “everyone around Torness” – currently Scotland’s only nuclear power plant – “is keen to see a new Torness”.

Torness is due to be decommissioned in 2028.

The National: Torness Nuclear Power Station, East Lothian.

The Scottish Secretary replied: “On the small nuclear reactors, I have asked the energy minister to plan for one in Scotland, because I believe in 2026 we’ll see a Unionist regime again in Holyrood, and they will move forward on that matter.”

Responsibility for energy is reserved to Westminster, but the Scottish Parliament has control over planning and environmental regulations.

The SNP has previously said it would block any moves to build new nuclear reactors in Scotland.

Elsewhere at the committee, Jack proposed setting up a Lords “grand committee” to probe Scottish legislation.

He added the 25th anniversary of devolution was a chance to “review” what did and didn’t work about it.

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Sheppard (below) said: “Alister Jack doesn't have long left in office and instead of working to make the lives of the people of Scotland better, he is spending his time undermining and patronising our democratically elected government.

"His comments and the decision to ignore the Scottish Government on building new nuclear reactors in Scotland show exactly how this Westminster government sees Scotland and its people - a nation that should get in line and know its place. 

The National: Tommy Sheppard

"Scotland doesn't need expensive nuclear power - we already have abundant natural energy resources, we just need full powers over energy so Scotland can take full advantage of the green energy gold rush.

“People in Scotland deserve better than ministers at Westminster who insult us, disregard our votes and ignore what we stand for.”

Jack also revealed he intervened in UK legislation that will exonerate subpostmasters wrongly convicted in the Post Office Horizon scandal, so that it did not automatically extend to Scottish victims, based on the wishes of the Lord Advocate.

Aileen McHarg, professor of public law and human rights at Durham University, called out the Scottish Secretary for making the exoneration process “more difficult”.

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She said on Twitter/X: “Why does Alister Jack think it’s his role to take sides in internal disagreements between members of the Scottish Government?

“He has in any case not delivered what he Lord Advocate wanted; he’s just made the process of delivering a blanket exoneration more difficult.”

The UK Government was heavily criticised for including Northern Ireland – where justice is devolved – in its legislation and not Scotland, which the Scottish Government argues would have sped up the exoneration process.

The Scottish Government introduced emergency legislation on Tuesday to clear the names of Scottish sub-postmasters wrongly convicted, but this will not fully go through Parliament until the UK legislation is complete.