East Lothian MP Kenny MacAskill calls for UK government support when Torness power station shuts down

The UK government has come under fire after indicating there will be no special help for East Lothian when Torness nuclear power station stops operating in 2028.

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Torness owners EDF brought forward the date when the plant will cease generating electricity by two years from 2030 at the same time as Hunterston B in Ayrshire closed earlier this month.

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Torness nuclear power station directly employs about 500 staff and 250 contractors.

Torness nuclear power station is due to cease operating in 2028

But when East Lothian Alba MP Kenny MacAskill asked UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng what support and resources were provided to councils in areas where a nuclear power station was to close, he was told no specific additional support or resource was to be made available.

The answer, from junior minister Greg Hands, said: “The first phase of closure is defueling, and this takes several years with continued use of EDF’s uniquely experienced teams, and specialist supply chain companies, preserving jobs in a local community.

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"Following the defueling phase, each station will transfer to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to deliver the subsequent decommissioning activity. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has a duty to ensure that decommissioning activities benefit local communities and provide a beneficial legacy once decommissioning work is completed.”

Mr MacAskill said the closure of Torness would have a major impact on the county and the government had a responsibility to provide support.

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He said: "We've got six years to prepare, but the UK government was central to the power station coming here, that was why the site was chosen, it was established under a previous non-devolved regime and energy remains a reserved responsibility for Westminster.

“If this were a military base closing, steps would be taken to look after the community. There really has to be more done here.”

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He said East Lothian was not the only area which would see power station closures in the year ahead.

“It’s happening in North Ayrshire now and it will be replicated in other areas, so there really should be a system to allow councils and communities to be supported as they transition.

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“In some instances down south there will be a further plant to be constructed, which may alleviate the issue. That's not the situation in Scotland."

Mr MacAskill acknowledged there would be still be “quite significant” employment involved in the decommissioning process at Torness, but not at the same level as the power station while it was still operating.

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“Jobs will remain, but not in the numbers,” said Mr MacAskill.

"What we need is to provide alternative work for the community and that’s where the government has a responsibility.

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“East Lothian is going to be the landing site for energy from renewables, so support should be given to allow for the transition.”

Torness has been part of East Lothian life for more than four decades. Large protests against pans for the power station were staged in the 1970s. Construction began in 1980 for the then South of Scotland Electricity Board (SSEB) and it was commissioned in 1988.

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