Hunterston to operate till 2023

The Hunterston B nuclear power station in Ayrshire has been extended by seven years. This follows a technical and economic evaluation of the plant that confirmed it could operate until 2023.

The power station opened in 1976 and had been scheduled for shut-down in 2011, but this was previously extended to 2016. The plant employs more than 700 people and generates enough electricity to supply almost half of Scotland’s homes.

While the Scottish Government is opposed to new nuclear plant it does not object to life extensions to existing plant. Just as well given the plant’s key role in delivering base load electricity to the grid.

EDF Station director Colin Weir said: “This is great news for Hunterston B, Ayrshire and for Scotland. I am personally delighted that it gives my staff many more years of job security and for the positive effect that that in turn has on the local economy. We can now continue to provide highly skilled jobs for more than 700 people. Today’s announcement is also recognition by EDF Energy of the professionalism of everyone at Hunterston B, which has been supplying electricity to Scotland for more than 36 years.”

EDF Energy estimate the financial benefits to the local economy at £40m a year.

But not everyone is happy with the decision. Patrick Harvie MSP for the Scottish Greens, said: “Scotland doesn’t need to sweat its nuclear assets to keep the lights on. This extension shows how light touch regulation is failing us and the Scottish Government shouldn’t just wave it through. The Scottish Parliament has voted against new nuclear, and it’s clear our renewables targets are achievable. Why on earth would we allow EDF to increase our toxic waste legacy and continue the risks of running a plant built in the 60s?”

In our view Scotland does need to keep its nuclear assets to keep the lights on at least in the medium term. That reality is reflected in the Scottish Government’s pragmatic response to this announcement.

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