Hunterston B nuclear power plant will run until 2023

Hunterston B will now be able to operate until 2023

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The operating life of Hunterston B nuclear power station in Ayrshire has been extended by seven years, power firm EDF Energy has announced.

The company said a technical and economic evaluation of the plant confirmed it could operate until 2023.

Hunterston B 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.

The operating extension was announced by EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz.

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.

• Hunterston B nuclear plant

  • Started generating in February 1976
  • Generates enough electricity for more than one million homes
  • Employs 531 staff and 180 full-time contractors
  • EDF Energy has invested £43m in the plant in 2012

"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 estimated the financial benefits to the local economy at £40m a year.

It said Hunterston B has produced about 250 terawatt hours (TWh) since beginning operations in 1976 and as a low carbon form of generation had avoided at least 160 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

The Scottish government is firmly opposed to the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations but has said it is "perfectly open" to the continued operation of Hunterston and its younger sister station at Torness in East Lothian.

A spokesman said: "We have consistently made it clear that nuclear energy will be phased out in Scotland over time, with no new nuclear build taking place in Scotland.

"But we have also consistently made clear that this does not preclude extending the operating life of Scotland's existing nuclear stations to help maintain security of supply over the next decade while the transition to renewables and cleaner thermal generation takes place."

Reacting to the announcement, environmental body WWF Scotland branded nuclear power the "ultimate unsustainable form of energy".

Director Dr Richard Dixon said: "This 40-year old nuclear station will be creating yet more radioactive waste which could be easily avoided through growth in renewables and greater energy efficiency. We simply don't need nuclear power to keep the lights on."

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