Energy company SSE confirms Ferrybridge power station closure

Ferrybridge C power station
Image caption Ferrybridge C power station will stop generating in March 2016

A coal-fired power station deemed as "no longer economical" will close, an energy company has confirmed.

SSE will shut the Ferrybridge power station on the West and North Yorkshire border by March 2016.

Union leaders described the closure as "devastating news" for the plant's 172 employees, though SSE said it would redeploy staff "where possible".

The firm is considering reopening the gas-fired power station at Keadby, near Scunthorpe, by the end of October.

SSE said rising costs, the impact of environmental legislation and a forecast £100m loss over the next five years made the Ferrybridge site "unsustainable".

Adjusted pre-tax profit for the 12 months to the end of March was £1.56bn, compared with £1.55bn the year before.

It lost 500,000 customers in the period, which it blamed on competition from smaller providers.

Ferrybridge power station to shut

SSE says it will close in March 2016


Pre-tax profit for year to March 2015

  • 500,000 Number of customers lost

  • 48 Years plant has been open

  • £100m Losses forecast over five years


Paul Smith, SSE managing director of generation, said it had been a "very difficult decision" to close the plant and the firm had kept the site "running for as long as we possibly could".

He said: "Our team at Ferrybridge is highly skilled, dedicated, with a strong track record of performance and we're keen to ensure, where possible, staff are redeployed across other parts of the SSE group, for example at the nearby Keadby power station, or across the wider business."

Phil Whitehurst, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This is devastating news for Ferrybridge workers at a station that has years of life left to supply electricity, at a fraction of the price of other energy suppliers.

"As things stand, the only thing consumers will get from some of these suppliers are higher bills.

"Unlike Ferrybridge none of the components and little of the labour will be sourced from the UK."

Kelvin Mawer, from the Unite union, said he hoped compulsory redundancies could be avoided.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds he said: "SSE don't like making redundancies and when we've had redeployment in other areas they've always tried to avoid compulsory redundancies.

"I think they're trying really hard to avoid that happening here."

  • Ferrybridge, often referred to as 'Ferrybridge C', is one of 14 working coal-fired power stations in the UK
  • Currently 31% of the UK's electricity comes from coal-burning power stations
  • Ferrybridge C is the third coal-fired power station to be built on the site since 1924 and first fed electricity into the national grid in 1966
  • On 1 November 1965 three of the eight cooling towers collapsed in high winds
  • On 15 June 1984 miner Joe Green was crushed to death by lorry while picketing at Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire
  • On 31 July 2014 a fire caused the partial collapse of a tower on the site but no-one was injured.

Source: BBC/SSE/Energy UK

Yvette Cooper, Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley, tweeted: "Dreadful news that SSE plan to close Ferrybridge C next year inc 170 local jobs. Seeking urgent meetings with SSE, union & workforce."

SSE said plans to reopen Keadby power station, which was mothballed in March 2014, were based on "more favourable forecasts for gas fired plants".

In March 2015, SSE announced that it would look at options available to return the station to service for the winter of 2015-16.

It said a final decision will be taken later this year.

SSE said it was committed to the Ferrybridge site, with a £300m multi-fuel plant next to the power station due to open before the end of the year. It is expected to create 46 jobs.

The company has also submitted plans to build another multi-fuel station at the site.

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