The Scottish Government has today announced that it will set up a taskforce to support the workers, businesses and communities impacted by the closure of Longannet Power Station after Scottish Power confirmed that it will permanently close the station in March 2016.
The power station employs 236 people but Scottish Power said it hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Longannet, which opened in 1972, is one of the biggest coal-fired power stations in Europe – and was capable of generating around half of Scotland’s electricity.
Neil Clitheroe, Chief Executive of retail and generation at Scottish Power, said: “We have explored every potential option to keep the station open, and we still maintain that Longannet could continue generation in to the next decade under the right economic conditions.
“Our main focus now is consulting with staff to ensure we find the best outcomes possible for all of the 236 impacted employees, many of whom have spent their entire career at the station.
“We would like to thank everyone at the station for their professionalism and continued commitment, and we know that the last few months have been very difficult.”
Hector Grant, Chief Executive, the Scottish Energy Association, commented: “Confirmation of the closure of Longannet is unfortunately not unexpected based on the news that has been published over the last few months.
“However, the ramifications of this early closure will be felt throughout our membership which covers the whole energy supply chain. Once again organisations in this position will have to review their businesses in a different light and investment in the industry will certainly be impacted.”
Scottish Ministers highlighted that Scottish Power clearly cited the UK transmission charging framework as a key factor in its decision – both to close Longannet early, and not to pursue plans for new thermal generation at Cockenzie.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Scottish Power’s decision to close Longannet is deeply regrettable and has far reaching consequences for Scotland.
“This is a worrying time for Longannet workers and the Scottish Government and its agencies will do everything possible to support the 230 directly employed staff who will be affected by this announcement.
“Our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment, has already offered immediate support for affected employees and will work closely with the company and workforce representatives to provide a tailored package of support.
“In addition, there will be significant impacts in the Scottish supply chain, with hundreds of indirect jobs in the coal, transport and service sectors reliant on the power station.
“Since March, when it was announced that early closure was likely, I have met twice with Scottish Power, Fife Council and workforce representatives to consider the issue and secure the best possible outcomes for those affected. We will now establish a taskforce to build on that work and develop a joint, multi-agency action plan to mitigate the impacts of the closure locally and across the supply chain.
“The taskforce will meet next week and will also include detailed discussions over the long term future of the Longannet site. I have spoken to Scottish Power today to stress the need for constructive engagement on the future of the site and on action to address the economic impacts of early closure.
“Today’s decision is ultimately an unfortunate and direct result of the UK’s discriminatory transmission charging system that penalises Scottish electricity generators in comparison to those in the south of England.
“In Longannet’s case the extra charges amount to £40 million per year. However, despite raising our concerns repeatedly with the Prime Minister, absolutely nothing has changed.
“Scotland’s electricity generation policy sets out the Scottish Government’s support for a balanced mix of electricity generation, including new clean thermal plant. The UK Government must work with us to create an environment that incentivises the huge potential of clean thermal technologies, particularly Carbon Capture and Storage.