Eggborough power station has been excluded from subsidies to convert from coal to cleaner biomass

Campaign to save 800 jobs at coal plant

Unions have stepped up a campaign to secure the future of a huge coal power station to avoid the loss of up to 800 jobs.

In a letter to local MPs, workers at the coal-fired Eggborough plant in North Yorkshire blamed the Government's energy policy for the plant’s uncertain future and said that potentially thousands more jobs could be lost in the supply chain.

Eggborough has been working on a biomass conversion project which was due to start last month, but it was excluded from subsidies to convert from coal to cleaner biomass.

In their letter, workers said: "We at Eggborough are very proud to have 'kept the lights on' for the last 40 years and we wish to continue to help meet the needs of the UK and avert capacity crunch and blackout fears. Please look into this matter and let us know if there is anything you can do to help."

Unite national officer Kevin Coyne said: "Writing-off Eggborough power station would be an act of industrial vandalism that puts Britain's energy security at risk and will lead to thousands of lost jobs.

"The coalition's energy policy is flawed. Coal fired power stations are closing and there are not enough replacements, yet energy secretary Ed Davey seems content to lose 4 per cent of the UK's energy capacity in one fell swoop. It is no wonder Britain is heading for an energy crisis. We sincerely hope he rethinks this bizarre decision."

Gary Smith, national officer of the GMB, said: "UK coal stations are becoming uneconomic because of the treasury cash cow – the carbon tax. Stations like Eggborough try to do the right thing moving to renewables and they get a kick in the teeth in return."

Mike Macdonald, of the Prospect union, said: "Placing Eggborough out of the frame for the conversion to biomass production is not helping anyone – neither the dedicated staff employed at the site nor the public.

"The Eggborough conversion plan would place the plant in a position to play a key role in keeping the lights on while helping the country meet its carbon reduction targets. We urge the government to rethink the conversion proposals for the good of the plant, the staff employed there and in the supply chain, and for the good of the bill-paying public."

A Department for Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: "Business decisions are ultimately a matter for Eggborough's owners. There has been a high level of interest in investment contracts for renewable electricity generation but we have always been clear that the budget would be limited.

"Final decisions on which projects will receive Government support under this process will be made this spring. The lights are not going out. We are taking prudent steps to ensure that any risks to security of supply are minimised."

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