THE Scottish Government has come under fire for failing to oppose Westminster’s decision to consider an Ayrshire site for a nuclear fusion plant.

The announcement last week that Ardeer has been placed on a five location shortlist to build a prototype was met with anger from anti-nuclear campaigners. However the Scottish Government’s response appears to suggest the plant will be considered in a review of its energy strategy, which until now has been firmly against any new nuclear power plants.

The existing reactors in Scotland produce energy through fission, which is the process of splitting atoms and creates radioactive waste. Fusion, which creates energy by forcing atoms together, is considered to be both cleaner and safer but has so far proved extremely difficult to harness. Even a prototype is expected to involve high construction and operational costs.

A spokesperson for Scottish CND expressed disappointment that the Scottish Government has not objected to Ardeer being placed on the shortlist.

READ MORE: Nuclear fusion power plant prototype could come to Scotland

She told the Sunday National: “There is absolutely no reason for the Scottish Government to be anything but clear cut right now about the folly of any investment in nuclear fusion.

“It is an entirely untested process and will not, even with the best of outcomes, be able to contribute to emission reduction before it is too late. There remain huge worries around safety, the production of nuclear waste and the potential link to nuclear weapon production.

“The Scottish Government has no obligation to consider the concerns of the UK Government in creating a workforce with the skill-set necessary to maintain its weapons programme. The Scottish Government must focus on the renewable programme, and investment in the relevant skills.”

The Scottish Greens, who have entered a power sharing deal with the Scottish Government, have also condemned the idea of a fusion plant as “folly” and have called on Westminster to focus instead on renewable energy.

A party spokesperson said: “It is folly to pin our hopes for decarbonising the energy system on technology which is not available yet.

“The UK Government should instead focus on boosting the renewables sector while we still have time to tackle the climate crisis.”

The Scottish Government said it had “noted” the outcome of the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) STEP competition shortlisting process.

“We know that delivering a net-zero economy by 2045 will require significant growth in renewable and clean electricity production, and work is underway to refresh our Energy Strategy to reflect this transformation,” said a spokesperson.

“This includes a review of the potential contribution all relevant technologies might make towards our future electricity production. We will consult on the refreshed Energy Strategy in the spring.”

He added: “The Scottish Government is absolutely clear in our opposition to the building of new nuclear power plants in Scotland under current technologies.”

The Ardeer shortlisting has also been welcomed by SNP North Ayrshire and Arran MP Patricia Gibson.

If the plant goes ahead, the UK Government says it will be operational by the early 2040s and could provide thousands of jobs.

George Freeman, UK Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, said: “Fusion energy has the potential to be a truly revolutionary and inexhaustible energy source that can help us reduce our dependence on unreliable fossil fuels and tackle climate change.”