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On the agenda at the June plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg was a debate on plans by EU member states to initiate ʻstress testsʼ on their nuclear power stations, in the light of the catastrophe at Fukushima in Japan. The world is waking up to the massive safety risks presented by nuclear energy, as Germany becomes the latest European country to announce its intention to go nuclear free.
Switzerland has also announced its intention to be nuclear free by 2034, and Italian voters have, in a referendum, overwhelmingly opposed Government plans to commission new nuclear power stations in their country. The recent decision by the German Government to take its nuclear power plants offline by 2022 means that Germany and Scotland share the common goal of a nuclear-free future in electricity generation.
Germanyʼs announcement has been the subject of much debate among politicians across Europe, and has focussed even more attention on the potential for investment in the development of electricity generation capacity from renewable sources, such as hydro power and the immense offshore wind, wave and tidal energy around Scotland.
Scotland is well placed to lead the global renewable energy revolution with our huge natural advantage. Scotland has the capacity to generate a quarter of Europe's offshore wind and tidal power and a tenth of the Continent's wave energy. Realising that potential is a top priority for the Scottish Government, which has already made a commitment to meeting 100% of our domestic electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
By achieving this ambitious target, we can secure Scotland's power supply and create thousands of jobs in the renewable and low carbon sector. With the normal powers of an Independent country, Scotland could achieve even more. With independence we can work together to make Scotland a more ambitious and dynamic country. We can create an environment where our existing and new industries can grow more easily. Scotland would have the economic levers to create new jobs and take full advantage of our green energy windfall.
An Independent Scotland would have the power to make Scotland free of nuclear weapons too. SNP opposition to the Trident nuclear missile system and its planned replacement remains firm. There is no place for these weapons in an Independent Scotland.