EDF is set to close its coal-fired power station at Cottam, in Nottinghamshire, due to “challenging market conditions”, six years earlier than unions and employees were expecting.

The plant will cease generation at the end of September, after running for more than 50 years.

The company said the decision reflects “the challenging market conditions over the last few years and the context of the drive to decarbonise electricity generation”, which means the Cottam plant “will not be economically viable beyond the end of September 2019”.

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The closure puts 158 jobs at risk, and the company said it has entered consultation with trade unions and employee representatives.

Cottam plant manager Andy Powell said: “When the power station was built it was designed to operate for 30 years. It’s a credit to our people, the engineering and EDF Energy’s investment that it has operated for more than 50 years.  

“There has been an aspiration to move away from coal for a long time now and we have prepared thoroughly for the closure.

“We have a highly skilled and experienced workforce and we’re determined to support our people throughout this process. Today 158 people working at Cottam are in scope.” 

He added: “During 2017 we supported 19 people to move into alternative roles within EDF Energy, and an additional 22 will be transferring into alternative roles over the coming months.

“We are conscious of the need to support a just transition to a low carbon energy system. Our ambition is to close the station safely and responsibly by managing people and the environment properly and continuing to be a good neighbour.”

EDF said it plans to invest in more low carbon generation in future, including nuclear and renewable options.

Mike MacDonald, negotiations officer at Prospect union, said the closure of the plant will cost the local economy £60m.

He added that the premature date “will be a huge blow to workers and to the economies of Worksop and Retford”.

“We had been led to believe the power station would be wound down by 2025 which would have given plenty of time to mitigate the £60m which will be lost from the local economy as a result,” he said.

“That lead time is now gone and we need reassurances from the company and from the government that they will do all they can to minimise the impact of this closure.

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“We continue to work closely with EDF and the other unions to mitigate the loss of work and we will take every step to support our members and their families at this distressing time. Proper planning for a just transition could have avoided this and helped us to retain these skills in the UK economy.”

Mr MacDonald added: “When the capacity market was suspended last year, Prospect warned that it had the potential to put jobs at risk; the loss of 300 jobs at Cottam, both direct staff and contractors, proves the point. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reassuring the sector that they will resolve the issue soon is little comfort to those losing their jobs, or to the wider supply chain.

“The government must not let its current paralysis in the face of Brexit stop it from setting out a clear strategy to deal with the country’s urgent need for new capacity. Energy is essential to the UK’s economy and the loss of generation without any plan for its replacement is not in the public interest.”

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