Q&A Election Candidates Q4.

HERE for Caithness

Question 4

Dounreay is the major employer in Caithness, do you support plans for new investment in developing a long term future for generating nuclear power in the county.

Thurso & Northwest Caithness

Iain Gregory

In a word. Yes. We have an incredible pool of expertise in Caithness. We have the experience. We have the site. We have the people. Let’s get on with it.

Ron Gunn

As someone who left school at 15 to do a five year apprenticeship at Dounreay and later worked on site for over 35 years, I, like many others in Caithness, know the importance of Dounreay and HMS Vulcan and how the Highlands benefited from these sites. Our MP Jamie Stone is supporting the current UK government’s plans for fusion power plants to be built on existing nuclear sites and I am right behind him. Unfortunately the current Scottish government does not believe in Nuclear power and will stop any developments with planning powers.

Matthew Reiss

Yes, I always have done. I supported Struan Mackie’s successful bid to overturn a disgraceful Motion from an SNP Councillor based in Inverness to make Highland join a League of nuclear free local authorities. Speaking against the Motion was one of the most fulfilling moments of the last 5 years.

Struan Mackie

I have led calls for new nuclear in Caithness, successfully declaring the Highland Council the only local authority in the UK that has explicitly supports new generation.

The SNP and the Scottish Greens are in the pockets of eco-extremists and refuse to stand up for our nuclear community despite it being clear that renewable power alone will not support the energy needs of our nation.

As the Chair of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, I have seen first-hand the world-leading expertise and supply chain experience within the nuclear sector across Caithness and North Sutherland. There is no site more deserving of a new nuclear establishment than here in Caithness and I will continue to make that case to all levels of government.

But a diverse energy mix of renewables, oil and gas and nuclear will be needed for decades to come to drive down energy bills and secure jobs in the region. Although Dounreay is the obvious opportunity creator, oil and gas plays a huge part in the Far North too. We need to fight for Edinburgh to reverse their ideological opposition to nuclear and support workers in the offshore industry as an urgent priority, I promise to lead that fight.

Alex Glasgow

It should be remembered that, although geographical isolation was one reason for citing the experimental reactor in Caithness 70 years ago, locations on the South Coast of England were eager for it as well.

It was the representations of the MP, David Robertson which secured it for Caithness and transformed the county.

Caithness has a different relationship with things nuclear than other areas of the country.

Although expanding nuclear is in the joint gift of UK and Scottish Governments not cllrs, I am to all suggestions including a new reactor. I fully support the NDA, and decommissioning will be here for some time as Vulcan has yet to issue its Prior Information of Notice (“pulling the pin” as they say in military circles).

Karl Rosie

The nuclear industry has been in Caithness for 70 years and its loss with 1600 direct and many times more indirect jobs is a constant source of worry. The implications and effects of these job losses in any area are significant, in a County with a population below thirty thousand they will be catastrophic.

What I see regularly being played out in the local and national press frustrates me with this topic being used as a political football, whilst we head towards a decommissioning end state at Dounreay and Vulcan sites.

I supported the recent STEP Fusion bid project: Described as one of the world’s most efficient, cleanest, and lowest-carbon forms of energy, Caithness was ideally placed for the venture, and it would have dovetailed perfectly with the Dounreay decommissioning programme, creating thousands of jobs in Caithness during its construction phase and hundreds of jobs for its operation and maintenance. Unfortunately, our bid was not chosen to progress.

There are no concrete plans with new investment for any other developments, strategies have been announced by Boris Johnston and whether that should provide confidence in any meaningful outcome, people will decide for themselves.

As a County we should have an expectation that meaningful discussion and consideration takes place on this matter. During this term there have been no formal or informal discussions held between our MP and Caithness councillors on this topic, however press releases and dubious claims have been a regular occurrence. I think we all deserve better.

Wick & East Caithness

Bill Fernie

I am unaware of plans locally to set up generating nuclear power in the county. The question is I feel not the right one as Dounreay was not a nuclear power station but rather more of a research facility. There many questions to be answer wherever new smaller facilities are to be located and indeed it looks likely they will be many years away from putting any on the ground. First we need jobs and this may not be the only way to get them but it should be on the list of any suggestions under consideration.

Willie Mackay

Certainley, Dounreay are World leaders in Nuclear energy. Caithness right now have 11 Windfarms and 180 giant turbine structures covering most of the county with at least another four Windfarms in the pipeline . Where better to re introduce nuclear power or a certain degree of it back into Caithness than right here with the skills and technology right on our doorstep.

Neil MacDonald

I support the use of the skills we have built in Dounreay, and fear that if action is not taken soon that these skills will be lost to the area. However, we must create a broad base of employment opportunities so that we are not dependent on one employer going forward as we have seen the challenges posed by the decommissioning of Dounreay.

Jan McEwan

Dounreay has been and is a major employer in the County, it provides significant employment for Caithness, including training, apprenticeships and graduate courses; which provides a very skilled workforce. I support any credible proposal that will bring sustainable, long-term employment to the County. Although I do not know much in relation to the new investment opportunities for Dounreay that are being proposed, if elected I look forward to meeting with stakeholders to learn more. If they have the potential to sustain employment for Caithness for at least the next 30 years then this is clearly beneficial to Caithness as it will have significant socio-economic impacts for the area. I understand with the climate emergency we do need to investigate cleaner energy solutions to reduce green house gas emissions and I will be proactive in securing solutions that not only benefit the environment but also Caithness.

Andrew Jarvie

New nuclear development, it’s that simple. Keeping Dounreay and the jobs which it brings is the best hope Caithness has of averting the catastrophic population decline. The UK Government wants to build more nuclear reactors and the Scottish Conservatives previous passed a vote in the Council whereby the Council declared itself pro-nuclear and openly calling for new development. The SNP Scottish Government needs to drop their absurd anti-nuclear, windfarm loving energy policy so that Caithness can prosper.

Raymond Bremner

I am not aware of any plans for new investment in generating nuclear power in the county nor am I aware that any have been announced. Dounreay is an important employer in Caithness and has been for decades. It will continue to be for years to come while the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority continues its remit to decommission the site. In the meantime, it is really important that all stakeholders ensure that the future economy of Caithness provides for the skills that will be created whilst the decommissioning programme continues. The current focus of government is to target net zero carbon within the foreseeable future. I support the numerous renewable initiatives that we are pursuing in Caithness and other initiatives to attract big business investment that will achieve a long-term future for employment in Caithness, especially in respect of the need to transition and diversify in the future from the role that Dounreay currently provides in the community. Given the skills we have at Dounreay, we could be looking at investing in Hydrogen Energy and battery storage of power. The Scottish Government has not ruled out development of nuclear fission technology and it would be interesting to see what developments are on the horizon in respect of this.

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