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Government Refuses to Meet Unions Over Risk to 850 Eggborough Power Jobs


12:07pm 17th January 2014
(Updated 3:49pm 17th January 2014)

The government has refused to meet two trade unions who are calling for a meeting over fears for 850 jobs at Eggborough Power Station.

It missed out on government biomass subsidies to convert the station from coal to biomass as part of a £750 million expansion project for the station. Work was due to start on the 6th January but has now stalled. If it had gone ahead it would have been one of the single largest construction project in Britain to commence in the first quarter of 2014.

Now, unions say the power station will close by the end of 2015 with all 850 jobs set to go and have written to Energy Secretary Ed Davey asking to meet him over the issue. The GMB says the power station is viable if converted to biomass and there are foreign investors interested in the conversion but without the biomass subsidies the investment will not happen.

But the Department for Energy and Climate Change is refusing to meet the unions, a spokeswoman told Minster FM in a statement:

“Eggborough remain in the FID Enabling for Renewables process."

“They have received a draft investment contract and have been invited to submit a binding application by 13 March 2014."

“Given these circumstances it would not be appropriate for the Secretary of State to meet with Trade Unions to discuss the FID Enabling for Renewables application."

“However, DECC will continue to discuss with Eggborough all the options available to the plant.”

Eggborough currently provides 4% of Britain’s total electricity supply, keeping the lights on in three million homes

Phil Whitehurst GMB National Officer for Engineering Construction said

“This power station has been left high and dry because the carbon capture project at neighbouring Drax power station is more favourable to the Government’s failing energy policy."

"850 in house workers will go, as well as thousands in the supply chain. In addition a £60m investment at Immingham Docks, and another one at Teesport will be shelved. These port facilities would have handled the biomass fuel imports. The rail networks to handle the movement of the fuel from the docks to the power station from both ports will also be shelved."

"The imminent closure of Eggborough is another indictment of the failing energy policy of this Government. This power station is a viable generation facility if converted to biomass. There are foreign investors interested, but without the biomass subsidies the investment will not happen."

"When will this Government wake up to the facts of economic life. It does not take Einstein to work out, that if our power infrastructure is not under public control, then foreign investors want a return on their investment in the form of subsidies, and without these subsidies this power station will close, with the loss of 800 in-house workers and hundreds more in the supply chain”. 

Eggborough Chief Executive Neil O’Hara said after the announcement by the government was made in December:

“Unless a viable solution is found with Government, the most likely outcome now is that Eggborough will no longer be supplying electricity to the grid beyond 2015. Impending EU regulation and the escalating impact of the carbon price floor mean this is unfortunately the rational economic conclusion based on the information we have available at this time.”

We're waiting to hear back from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

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