ScottishPower’s coal-fired plant, in East Lothian, has shut down its four turbines for the last time today as the company plans to replace it with a gas-fired facility.

Opened 45 years ago, Cockenzie powered approximately 1 million homes every year during its operational lifetime and is one of several core British power stations set to close in 2013 due to EU environmental regulations.

ScottishPower energy retail and generation CEO Neil Clitheroe said: “When Cockenzie became operational in 1967, the world was a very different place, but the station was designed to such a high standard that it played a pivotal role in maintaining the security of electricity supplies in Britain for more than four decades.”

Clitheroe said it was vital that power companies received clarity from the Government’s Energy Bill to generate investor confidence for a new generation of replacement gas power stations.

“We have planning consent for a new gas-fired station here in Cockenzie, but like many other companies, we are unable to commit to new investment in gas generation until we fully understand how the market will work in the future,” he said.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks welcomed the move, describing Cockenzie as “one of the most polluting power stations in Europe” but was sceptical of the need to replace the plant with a gas-fired alternative.

He said: “There is no need for the proposed new gas plant to fill the space left by the coal station. The Government’s own energy policy shows that Scotland doesn’t need any new gas or coal to keep the lights on. A new unabated gas plant risks locking Scotland into high carbon electricity generation that threatens our climate targets and makes us even more reliant on volatile global gas markets.

After decommissioning, some of the old plant stripped from inside the turbine hall will be recycled and put to use at other power stations in ScottishPower’s fleet.

Conor McGlone

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