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Future bright for power station

THE FUTURE of one of the area's major landmarks looks to be secure for at least the next decade.

Fiddlers Ferry power station

THE FUTURE of one of the area's major landmarks looks to be secure for at least the next decade.

Fiddler's Ferry power station, the largest in the North West, has dominated the Widnes skyline since the 1960s and is capable of producing enough electricity to meet the needs of more than two million people.

But new EU laws on air pollution could have led to its closure, claims the region's Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies.

He claims sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from the power plant, owned by Edison Mission Energy, make it the region's largest single source of air pollution.

Euro-MPs wanted all coal-fired power plants which had not been fitted with expensive desulphurisation equipment to be closed within a decade.

But Mr Davies sat on a negotiating committee which agreed large power stations could operate for up to 2,000 hours a year until 2016 with relatively minor cuts in emission levels.

After that the plants can operate for up to 1,500 hours a year if they can meet much tougher emission standards.

The move came after the Government warned that closing the coal fired power stations would effectively bring about the end of the British coal industry, even though most of the fuel burned at Fiddler's Ferry is imported.

The deal had also been made possible by Britain committing itself to meeting higher air quality standards than it had previously been prepared to accept.

Chris Davies said: 'Pollution pays no respect to national boundaries, and the standards need to be set down at a European level.

'But now that these targets have been agreed I think it is up to each country to decide for itself how it will meet them.

'It's a difficult trade-off between losing jobs now and reducing our future energy options, or speeding up the pace of environmental improvement.'

The MEP said that the main factor determining the future of Fiddler's Ferry would be whether energy prices could justify further investment in the plant.

Jonathon Green, an Edison Mission Energy spokesman, said: 'It's a great outcome and the prospects of Fiddler's Ferry operating well into the next decade look good.

'We appreciate the efforts put in by Chris Davies in getting this result.'


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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