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by
16 March 2015
Swinney demands transparency over Longannet's future

Swinney demands transparency over Longannet's future

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has demanded greater transparency from the National Grid over the future of Longannet power station – suggesting that its assumptions may be “overly optimistic” – ahead of a visit later today.

Swinney’s visit comes following warnings from the plant’s operator, Scottish Power, that the power station could close within a year if it does not win a contract with National Grid.

Swinney is expected to say: “The Scottish Government is determined to do all that we can to avoid the premature closure of Longannet and our dialogue with National Grid and the UK Government has been focused on that objective.

“Given the significance of Longannet’s potential closure, it is in the public interest that all information relating to Scotland’s security of supply position is placed in the public domain, and is subject to independent scrutiny.

“There is a clear obligation to the public to be transparent about all of the facts and to publish detailed technical studies for Scotland.

“Experts advising the Scottish Government have questioned many of the assumptions made by National Grid. They believe these assumptions may be over optimistic, especially when capacity margins in the UK may fall to as low as 2 per cent this winter.”

Neil Clitheroe, chief executive of retail and generation at Longannet operator Scottish Power appeared in front Holyrood's Economy and Energy Committee last week, where he was forced to deny “brinkmanship” over the plant’s future.

Reacting, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “The Deputy First Minister is absolutely right that information about Scotland's energy supply should be in the public domain.

"However, from the evidence given to the Scottish Parliament’s Energy Committee last week, it is now very clear that thanks to the massive growth in Scotland's renewable power output and planned upgrades to the transmission network, the lights will not go out when Longannet eventually closes before the end of the decade.

"Even if Longannet were to close in 2016, the National Grid is already taking steps to ensure grid stability.”

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