King’s Lynn power station redundancies announced

Future of planned second plant also under review

Redundancy plans have been announced at King's Lynn power station - and proposals for a second plant which could have created up to 1,000 construction jobs in the town are also under review.

Owners of the Saddlebow plant Centrica is about to start consultation with its 35 staff which will continue until early into the new year and the future of the station itself could be in doubt.

The company is also reviewing plans to build a massive new gas-powered turbine next to its current plant in light of rising gas prices and a Government review of energy.

The new plant, which was announced in 2007, would create an economic mini-boom for the town during construction when around 1,000 people would be employed. When the first station was being built it was estimated �8m was pumped into the local economy.

The current station came online in 1996 and is now deemed middle-aged, less efficient and is being called on less and less by the National Grid to provide power.

The National Grid uses an 'order of merit' system for power providers with newer, more efficent plants called-on to feed into the system while the Lynn station is being utilised less and less.

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Ultimately the �160m plant, which could generate enough power for 300,000 homes, could come off-line completely and no longer be used.

Centrica is currently reviewing its operation and a decision on both the current and proposed stations are still a 'long way off' according to a spokesman.

When plans for the new station were revealed, it could have been up and running by 2013 with a capability of producing more than 1,000mgw of power - almost three times the output of the existing facility. It would employ between 30 and 40 people once fully operational.

'There is a huge amount of planning because it is a very complex decision which lasts up to 40 years and the market is continually changing,' said the spokesman.

The Government's energy market reform is also currently under way and Centrica is unlikely to make any long-term decisions until the results are known within the industry - which could be up to 18 months.

But the focus has appeared to be on renewable energy provision, such as wind farms as more traditional methods of production using fossil fuels are being seen as unsustainable.

'There is a lot of intermittent wind but you would need a back-up which is powered by a gas turbine,' said the Centrica spokesman.

Sarwjit Sambhi, Centrica director for power generation said: 'Our older, less efficient, power stations are facing very challenging economic conditions as a result of high gas input prices. As we do not expect the situation to improve in the medium term, we are looking at options for our generation fleet, including at Kings Lynn.

'Lynn will continue to operate into next year but in November we will start consulting with our employees over redundancy plans and will make a final decision next year. We understand this is a very difficult time for employees and we are ensuring they're getting all the support they need, both now and in the future.'