Hunterston and Torness nuclear plants reopen to public
Scotland's two nuclear power stations are opening their doors to the public for the first time since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001.
A new visitor centre is being opened on Friday at Hunterston B, near West Kilbride, in North Ayrshire.
Operator EDF Energy plans to open a similar facility at the Torness plant, in East Lothian, later this year.
The Hunterston facility will open daily from 09:00 until 16:00 and offer guided tours and "hands-on" displays.
The visitor centre at Hunterston is the first to be opened at EDF Energy's UK plants.
'Openness and transparency'
Company chief executive Vincent de Rivaz unveiled the new facility on Friday.
"We have said for some time now that openness and transparency has to be at the heart of everything we do in our nuclear and our retail business," he said.
"We are already at the heart of the community in North Ayrshire.
"However, this gives us a great opportunity to engage with more and more people and listen to what they have to say and answer any questions they may have about our station, our company and the nuclear industry as a whole."
EDF believes the Hunterston visitor centre will attract about 3,500 people each year.
Visitors will be given an introductory talk about how the station operates, before being given a guided tour through selected parts of the plant.
The majority of the tours will be organised for schools and educational groups.
Members of the public will also be able to visit the station by appointment.
Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "I welcome EDF Energy's commitment to openness and transparency in their work on existing nuclear power production.
"While the Scottish government has a clear policy position against new nuclear build, we recognise that EDF Energy is a valued local employer and supports the community in which it operates."
The environmental group WWF Scotland, however, said the visitor centre opening at Hunterston did not change its assertion that nuclear power was unwanted and unneeded.
Director Dr Richard Dixon said: "Nuclear power is a dirty, dangerous and unnecessary technology.
"Research has shown that a combination of energy efficiency and renewables is more than enough to power all of Scotland's electricity needs.
"Instead of reopening a visitor centre to try to prop up public support they'd be better off opening a museum to serve as a reminder of quite what a folly we know nuclear to be."