The Prime Minister has officially opened the Torness nuclear power-station in East Lothian. The plant has been completed at a cost of eighteen-hundred-million pounds. Mrs Thatcher took the opportunity to re-emphasise her commitment to nuclear power, saying Britain needed four more stations by the end of the century. Before Mrs Thatcher arrived at the plant, about two-hundred anti-nuclear protesters held a demonstration. A woman was arrested, apparently after jumping in front of a car in the Prime Minister's convoy. As our Scottish affairs correspondent, Reeval Alderson, reports, the station has been opened at a time when Scottish miners are about to mount a campaign to save their coalfield: [end p1]
Mrs Thatcher used her well-publicised committment to environmental issues to restate the importance of nuclear power in Britain. It is, she said, a vital alternative to fossil fuels because it's clean and safe. Unlike conventional power stations, nuclear generation doesn't add to the Greenhouse Effect by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So, as the ageing Magnox reactors are phased out Britain will need more nuclear power stations.
Margaret Thatcher PM ACT
We need about four new nuclear power stations between now and the end of the century to replace those Magnox. I'm afraid, our planning procedures are slow but I hope that there'll be gradually more confidence in them. And, after that, we will have to see, I think, if we can get more.
With Torness, sixty per cent of Scotland's electricity is now nuclear-generated, allowing increased sales to the National Grid. But today's opening came a day before a campaign is to be launched to save the Bilston Glen Pit, near Edinburgh, which British Coal want to close. If it were to go, Scotland would be left with just one mine employing fewer than two thousand miners.