A NEW public poll conducted on behalf of the agency responsible for the decommissioning of Hunterston B has found majority local support for a return to nuclear power generation.

The survey, conducted on behalf of Nuclear Restoration Services (NRS), asked 2,100 people for their views on future nuclear power generation - and found 70 per cent were in favour.

The survey results have prompted a call for the Scottish Government to reconsider its blanket refusal on new nuclear power facilities and for a debate on the issue to be reopened.

NRS is responsible for safely decommissioning first generation nuclear and research sites across the UK including Hunterston A.

NRS will take on responsibility for Hunterston B when defuelling at the site is complete in 2025-26.

Hunterston B ceased generation in 2022.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

The survey, carried out on behalf of NRS by Thinks Insight and Strategy, included 600 respondents who live within 40 minutes of an NRS site within the UK, and 500 children aged 11-18 years of age.

The data uses site specific reports coming from a combination of local boost sample and those in the national representative sample who live near an NRS site.

Seven in ten respondents in the survey said they supported the use of nuclear power.

The result is broadly in line with polling carried out in communities around the UK located in the vicinity of nuclear sites, with an average of 72 per cent backing future nuclear power generation.

Jamie Black, who represents Largs Community Council on the Hunterston Site Stakeholders Group, said: "The results make very interesting reading, and are consistent with what I've found in my role as community councillor.

“I think this poll should be a real wake up call for the Scottish Government. It shows that they are out of step with public opinion on this matter.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Jame Black: Time to resurrect nuclear debateJame Black: Time to resurrect nuclear debate (Image: Newsquest)

“With the UK government, in its current form, having indicated intent to site a new power station in Scotland, we should ensure that our area is actively considered for that.

"Public opinion is clearly favourable and we should be allowed to participate in the conversation.”

A North Ayrshire Council proposal to bring a pioneering fusion power plant to North Ayrshire was dashed in October 2022 when the UK Government announced that West Burton in Nottinghamshire had been chosen for the 'Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production' facility ahead of Ardeer.

The Thinks study also found that residents near Hunterston "are more tolerant of disruption and costs to ensure the removal of all materials and buildings" during the decommissioning process.

According to the survey results, 43 per cent of residents near Hunterston rated their knowledge of nuclear energy as 'seven out of ten or higher', in line with the national sample average.

It also found positive reaction to Hunterston's contribution to the area, seeing the site as providing jobs (84 per cent), safe (78 per cent), a good employer (74 per cent), and important for the local economy (74 per cent), with one contributor describing Hunterston as "overwhelmingly positive economically and obviously benefitted every single person who used energy".

The study conclusion pointed out that it was ‘worth noting’ that views towards priorities and strategies for decommissioning are consistent across all the NRS sites around the UK.

The Scottish Government website states: “We recognise the contribution that nuclear generation makes to the energy mix in Scotland. However, its contribution will decrease as we increase electricity generation from renewable and other low carbon sources. 

"As set out in our Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan (2023), significant growth in renewables, storage, hydrogen and carbon capture provide the best pathway to net zero by 2045. It will also deliver a climate friendly energy system that delivers affordable, resilient and clean energy supplies for Scotland's households, business and communities.

“We are: opposing the build of new nuclear stations, ensuring that radioactive waste in Scotland is managed safely, fulfilling our nuclear responsibiltiies and engaging with stakeholders on nuclear issues."

Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson said: "“Hunterston B continues to have an important economic footprint locally. As decommissioning progresses, we need to ensure that its skilled workforce can transition to industries which will deliver renewable energy, such as XLCC at Hunterston.

“I am not aware of any proposals to construct new nuclear plants in Scotland.

“The reality is that new nuclear developments under current technologies would take decades to build, result in higher energy costs and produce an unsolvable problem in terms of nuclear waste.

“Hinkley Point C nuclear plant is reputedly the most expensive man-made structure on earth. Its cost has spiralled to £46,000 million and - despite the project dating back to 2007 - has been delayed to at least 2029.

“The UK Government estimates that total clean-up costs for sites which contained nuclear material from energy generation and weapons programmes could come to £263,000 million over the next century.

“All households are impacted as these higher costs are passed down into higher energy bills.

“There is a better way. Significant growth in renewables, storage, hydrogen and carbon capture which provide the best pathway to secure, affordable and clean energy supplies for Scotland.”