The SNP has seized on a leaked document that reveals UK Ministers are secretly planning to subsidise nuclear power plants.
SNP MP Mike Weir says the UK Government’s energy policy is now in tatters after the document revealed plans to subsidise nuclear energy generation through household electricity bills.
The document, which was submitted to the European Commission and has been verified as genuine, reveals plans to classify nuclear as “low carbon power” to allow the industry to receive public cash.
According to the Guardian newspaper, a separate report by Scottish & Southern Energy claims that such subsidies could “mess up” funding for renewables by causing “massive uncertainty”.
The SSE report stated: "We are concerned because if a nuclear subsidy messes up renewable support [there will be] massive uncertainty in our core market."
A spokesman for SSE said: "It is unclear what subsidy is required to make investment in new nuclear work. What the UK needs is an honest debate about the level of subsidy required, the mechanism for providing it, and why consumers should pay for it. If we decide that nuclear does need a subsidy it must be transparent how this is being provided and not be done in a way that damages investment in essential new renewable generation."
According to the Guardian, an industry senior figure in the renewables industry said that EU haggling over the state aid rules for nuclear would spell delays to the market reforms, and therefore create confusion for investors in the renewables industry.
Following the news, Centrica, the only UK company in the running to build a new generation of nuclear plants, has threatened to pull out.
Mr Weir, SNP Westminster Energy and Climate Challenge spokesman, said:
“The UK Government’s nuclear policy is in tatters, with leaked documents revealing electricity customers will foot the bill for nuclear power despite previous promises this would not happen.
“Not only does this show the Tory-Lib Dem coalition cannot be trusted on energy policy, it is also highly embarrassing for the Lib Dems who fought the general election firmly opposed to the expansion of nuclear power.
“Centrica, the only UK company in the running to help build new nuclear plants, is now threatening to pull the plug. This is simply a disaster for David Cameron.
“Nuclear power is simply not the answer to our energy needs. While Centrica threatens to pull out, Scotland’s approach continues to win investment and create thousands of jobs.
“Renewable energy is the way forward to provide a clean green future and true energy security.
“The SNP Government has firmly rejected nuclear and instead has set a 100 per cent renewable target for Scotland's own electricity use by 2020.
“The Tory-Lib Dem coalition must abandon its pursuit of an expensive, unsustainable and shambolic nuclear policy.
“Instead it should follow the lead of the Scottish Government transferring to a low carbon economy, which will benefit the environment, create jobs and lower household bills.”
The news will cause embarrassment to the UK coalition’s Lib Dem partners. In the 2010 general election campaign, party leader Nick Clegg pledged to fight any expansion of nuclear power.
Fiona Hall, leader of the Lib Dem group in the European Parliament said most industry people believed it was a subsidy. Ms Hall has written on the Lib Dem Voice website calling on all Lib Dem supporters to speak out against nuclear subsidies.