Longannet power station ‘may shut within a year’

Longannet power station is under threat from closure within a year, MSPs have been told. Picture: Gordon McBrearty

Longannet power station is under threat from closure within a year, MSPs have been told. Picture: Gordon McBrearty

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LONGANNET power station will close within a year unless it wins a short-term contract with the National Grid to help maintain voltage levels in the electricity supply, MSPs were warned.

Scottish Power – the operator of the site – will know whether the Fife plant has a future within a few weeks, representatives of the energy giant told Holyrood’s energy committee on Tuesday.

Scottish Power has criticised transmission charges to connect to the main grid network as “disproportionately high”, which could mean the closure of the plant in Fife by March 2016.

Labour said the risk to job cuts in Fife would be a “deep concern to workers and their families”, and the party warned that the closure of Longannet would leave Scotland too reliant on renewable energy – a policy heavily promoted by the SNP.

Billy Parker, a Unite union senior regional officer, said: “The immediate priority of everyone should be to ensure the future of the plant along with the hundreds of skilled jobs on which the local economy and depends.”

Neil Clitheroe, chief executive of retail and generation at Scottish Power, said: “We’ve been pretty consistent since October when we didn’t enter the capacity mechanism that if something doesn’t change at Longannet then the likelihood of closure is very high.”

However, committee convener Murdo Fraser suggested that the company was engaging in “brinkmanship” and using Longannet workers as “pawns in a game” to try and force National Grid’s hand.

National Grid said it expected to make a decision on the contract by the end of March.

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