WORK has begun on detailed plans for a new gas-fired power station in East Lothian after the controversial replacement of the Cockenzie facility was given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government.
Under the ScottishPower proposals, the ageing coal-burning power station, which is due to be mothballed in 2015, will be demolished and replaced, seeing the plant continue to provide energy for decades to come.
Around 1000 jobs are expected to be created in the demolition and construction phases, with 50 full-time positions opening up once it is completed.
But the development has been met with fierce opposition from the SNP-led coalition at East Lothian Council, as well as attracting protests from the local community.
The Scottish Government yesterday followed recommendations from a public inquiry and waved through the project which will see the plant powered by “clean fossil fuel”.
Energy minister Fergus Ewing MSP argued that, to meet its ambitious renewables target, Scotland would still require conventional energy sources to “provide a steady supply of electricity”. And he said: “The new gas station will provide a far cleaner source of baseload electricity, with less than half the amount of carbon emissions, creating new jobs in East Lothian and new opportunities for existing Cockenzie staff in the process.”
The news was also welcomed by Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray, who said he was pleased the project had cleared another hurdle. “East Lothian needs the demolition and construction jobs it will create,” he said. “We need the permanent jobs that the station will sustain and Scotland needs the cleaner electricity that it will generate.”
Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer at ScottishPower, said the ministers’ decision marked an “important milestone” and that plans will be developed further in the months ahead. Despite being vociferous opponents to the plans, SNP heavyweights at East Lothian Council were unavailable for comment.
But Dr Dan Barlow, head of policy at WWF Scotland said it was “extremely disappointed” at the decision.
He said: “The government’s own energy policy shows that Scotland doesn’t need any new gas or coal to keep the lights on. If this poor decision is later followed by the approval of a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston then Scotland can kiss goodbye to any credibility it currently has globally as a leader in tackling climate change.”
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