Council agrees plans for Longannet train factory

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image copyrightGetty Images
image captionLongannet was Scotland's last coal-fired power station until it was closed in 2016

Plans for a new train factory on the site of Scotland's last coal-fired power station have been given the go ahead.

Fife councillors agreed outline planning permission for redevelopment of Longannet, which closed in 2016.

The site has been chosen by Spanish train maker Talgo as the base for a new factory, employing 1,000 people and supporting a further 5,000 jobs.

Officials at Fife Council backed the plans submitted by Scottish Enterprise.

The economic body's Paul Lewis said the decision made on Wednesday was "a really exciting development".

He added: "This commitment to transform a former fossil fuels site also supports our work to make Scotland a net zero emissions economy."

It was initially thought Talgo would only proceed if it won a major train-building contract for the HS2 high speed rail line between London and the north of England.

But Talgo UK's managing director Jon Veitch told BBC Scotland the plans for the 80,000 sq m facility near Kincardine did not depend on securing that deal.

He said: "There are other options. We are looking at major contracts that are available to us.

"There are growing markets, particularly in Europe right now, particularly with the drive for decarbonisation and the modal shift from airlines to railway transit modes."

Scottish Enterprise said it would continue working with Talgo "to bring to life their plans".

image copyrightTalgo
image captionTalgo specialises in designing and making fast lightweight trains

Talgo specialises in designing and making fast lightweight trains. Its trains currently operate in 28 countries including Germany, the USA and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Veitch added: "Gaining the outline planning consent is a major milestone for us, which then enables us to make sure in the final stages all our plans are ready for contract award.

"For that, we are looking at 18 to 20 months for construction of the facility and then we obviously have a transfer of technologies and training commitment as we start to recruit upwards to 2023."

media captionMassive blast brings down more of Longannet power station

ScottishPower has been dismantling the site, carrying out a series of controlled explosions in recent weeks. Demolition work is set to continue into next year.

Transport and Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said welcomed the move by Fife Council, saying it was a "positive planning decision" and a "significant milestone for Scotland's partnership with Talgo".

He added: "It both moves us closer to the creation of 1,000 high quality, highly skilled jobs and demonstrates what Scotland can and will do for companies who share our vision of Scotland as the place to invent and build the future - and their own future workforce."

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