TILBURY Power Station is set to close after it opted out of a 2008 EU directive, meaning it has now reached the end of its life.
The station provides power for around 1.5 million homes and more than half of the UK’s renewable energy, but will be closed in October.
The EU directive came into effect on January 2008, but as the Tilbury station chose to “opt out” it was restricted to operating for a further 20,000 hours.
The station’s owner, RWE, has applied to Thurrock Council to extend the plant’s life until 2027 by creating a new biomass plant on the site, but workers remain concerned about what the future will bring.
One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We were told the plant is closing at the end of October because it needs money spent on it.
“I have been there since I left college, I’m gutted.”
Nigel Staves, the power station manager, insisted no-one would be made redundant, as workers would be allowed to stay on site and help the firm convert the power station – a process which could take up to a year.
He said: “Closure is an essential part of the future plans for the site, which includes the development of Tilbury Biomass Power Station – a 100 per cent biomass power station that will comply with new plant standards.
“We have submitted planning applications to Thurrock Council and an environmental permit application to the Environment Agency to progress biomass generation from the site.
“The licences and consents are expected to be decided upon within the next six months.
“We are committed to working with our people on their future aspirations.
“Formal consultation will begin on April 1 when people will be able to register interest in roles for the new biomass plant.”
Tilbury Power Station first opened in 1969 and currently employs 220 people.
Thurrock’s Conservative MP, Jackie Doyle-Price, added to the controversy by questioning Energy Minister John Hayes about the closure in Parliament, calling the move “stark raving bonkers”, and was told the decision to convert was a “commercial one”.
Speaking afterwards, she said: “I look forward to it reopening with new permissions, but in the meantime it is crazy that we are spending a fortune on wind farms that no-one wants, when Tilbury is the only significant source of renewable energy in the UK today.”