260 Scottish energy jobs at risk as Longannet coal-fired power station faces axe

Longannet power stationLongannet power station – which can generate around half of Scotland’s energy needs – is under imminent threat of closure next month and with it the prospect of 260 redundancies following the break-down of talks between Scottish Power and the UK National Grid.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to take the action requested by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, after it was revealed that Longannet power station could soon face premature closure due to the effect of UK energy policy – especially transmission charging.  

The Scottish Government understands that unless National Grid agree a deal, Scottish Power will be forced to take a decision on the plant’s future next month and thus the need for UK Government action is now urgent.

Sturgeon has again written to Cameron pointing out that ‘Scottish Conservative MSPs have admitted that the transmission charging regime discriminates against Longannet’, and that they are  also calling for new thermal power stations to be built in Scotland.

They have also confirmed their support for a strategy that ensures sufficient generating capacity is located in Scotland in the future without having to rely on importing energy from the rest of the UK.”

Her letter follows a visit to Longannet by Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing where he met with management and unions. Following a fiery debate in Holyrood yesterday, Ewing said last night:

“There are hundreds of direct jobs at risk at Longannet, and the viability of future thermal plants (coal or gas-fired power stations) in Scotland is  undermined by the UK transmission charging system for connecting to the Grid.”

Scottish Power was unavailable for comment last night.

Nicola Sturgeon, MSP
Nicola Sturgeon, MSP

Full text of Letter from Scotland’s First Minister to the Prime Minister

25 February 2015

Dear David

Thank you for your reply of 23 February on security of supply in Scotland.

I welcome your assurance that the UK Government is taking the issue of security of supply seriously, however it is a cause of concern that you are not willing to instruct the action necessary in Scotland, a request informed by advice from industry and academic experts on the Scottish Energy Advisory Board.  This is particularly frustrating given the key relevance it would have to the efforts to save Longannet power station from premature closure.  

I was surprised at your response, following the Scottish Conservative Party’s energy spokesperson comments on Radio Scotland last week that “[The current transmission charging regime] does discriminate against Longannet and that’s a matter of concern for me.”  Indeed the Scottish Conservatives have also confirmed their support for a strategy that ensures sufficient generating capacity (including a new gas-fired power station) is located in Scotland in the future “without having to rely on importing energy from the rest of the UK.”  Taking into account the views of the Scottish Conservatives it must surely now be time for your government to assess the impact of the GB policy and regulatory regime on electricity generation in Scotland.  The regime is completely inconsistent with the objectives of your party in Scotland for new thermal generation. 

However in the event that your positions continue to differ, and in-light of your endorsement of National Grid’s system study for Scotland, I would be grateful if you would commit to ensuring that the relevant report and background analysis undertaken by National Grid and mentioned in your letter is placed in the public domain.  The limited information that National Grid has shared with the Scottish Government from the system studies indicate that black-start restoration times in Scotland would deteriorate markedly without conventional thermal generating capacity located in Scotland. 

The Scottish Conservatives have tabled a Parliamentary debate on this issue today and it is one that the Scottish Parliament will continue to scrutinise in the coming weeks, months and years to come. In the interest of transparency it is therefore vital that  the full detailed working that underpins the analysis you are relying on (including its terms of reference) is placed in the public domain for all interested parties to scrutinise.  I would be grateful if you can confirm that this will be undertaken.

I am copying this letter to the Coalition’s Energy Secretary, Ed Davey. 

Nicola Sturgeon, MSP

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