Scottish Energy Minister pledges to explore ‘any avenue’ to prevent permanent closure of Longannet


End of an era for coal-fired Longannet power station
End of an era at coal-fired Longannet power station

Scotland’s Government will explore any avenue that will prevent premature closure of Longannet, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing pledged to Holyrood MPs yesterday.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament, Ewing said: “I welcome the support for Peterhead and understand that SSE is now progressing investment that will allow the station to operate more efficiently and flexibly going forward. Peterhead is key to efforts to prove the viability of carbon capture and storage – a technology with potential to unlock future low-carbon thermal generation in Scotland.

“For Longannet, however, National Grid’s decision is negative. Scottish Power has stated that ‘in all likelihood’ it will be forced to close Longannet prematurely in 2016. The consequences of this would be profound – both for direct and indirect employment; for Scottish coal production and hopes of restoring former open-cast sites; and ultimately for the balance and resilience of Scotland’s electricity supply.

23 March – Scottish Energy News: Scottish Power blames £40m UK-grid connection charge for decision to close coal-fired Longannet power station

“Let me be clear, whilst the decision is one for the company to make, we are determined to continue to explore any options that may avert the premature closure of Longannet. We believe the decision taken by National Grid and endorsed by the outgoing UK Government is flawed and fails to take account of serious flaws in the UK electricity supply system.

“My foremost thoughts are for the 270 direct employees at Longannet and those affected within the related supply chain. Naturally, this is a deeply worrying time for people whose livelihoods depend most heavily on Longannet.

“I have met with the Leader and Depute Leader of Fife Council on March 4 and spoke again with Councillor David Ross earlier this week. We have agreed to work on a joint response. We will co-chair a meeting to coordinate our efforts, inviting input from Scottish Power, workforce representatives and other key stakeholders.

“The Scottish Government-led Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) has contacted Scottish Power to outline the support on offer to affected employees. In addition, I will meet with representatives of the STUC and the Longannet unions today (Thursday).

“The Government and all our partners will strain every sinew to secure the best possible outcomes for those affected and mitigate the local and national economic impact if closure cannot be averted.”

“Scotland has an established policy towards its electricity generation –  which recognises the need to maintain a balanced mix of generation. But, our efforts are frustrated by the UK Government’s unwillingness to consider Scottish issues properly.

“Our ability to meet our renewables ambitions is severely restricted by the lack of clear and consistent commitments by the UK Government under the Levy Control Framework. Clearly, on a wide range of issues we remain at the mercy of decisions taken in Westminster over which this Parliament and Government has no control.

“These matters should concern all political parties in Scotland and should prompt some deeper reflection on the future of our energy system.”

* Meanwhile, more than 800 workers attended the Energy Jobs Task Force employment support event held yesterday at Aberdeen’s Pittodrie stadium. Bob Keiller, Chief Executive, Wood Group, said: “There’s a comprehensive package of support in place for those facing redundancy and this new service will further enhance that offering by supporting companies to transfer their people expertise though sharing with organisations that would benefit from the available skills.”

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