THE future of the Hunterston workforce after the 'B' station closes in four years time has been discussed at a top level meeting.

A recent Hunterston public liaison group meeting involving management, nuclear regulators and local community councillors has been tasked with looking at the future after the plant after its proposed closure.

Vice chairman Stuart McGhie said he thought it was important to form a sub-committee to look at what the future is for the local workforce.

He says it is vital to look at options available before the stations shuts and goes into a period of decommissioning.

It was also pointed out by Hunterston management that any additional learning from the decommissioning of Hunterston 'A' should be utilised for the shut down of the second station.

The issues were discussed during a recent site stakeholders group meeting at Seamill Hydro.

Figures were provided at the recent meeting were shows that the EDF operated power station still has 481 employees.

A spokesperson for EDF said: "The station has prepared a to 2023 in support of the business mission of safe reliable generation over extended life.

"This provides us with an understanding of resource demands throughout the station and what this means for resourcing, retirement of an ageing workforce."

As of 2019, the power station has been operating for 43 years.

Fresh reports however have emerged this week that the life of the power plant could yet be extended - despite the fact that both its reactors 3 and 4 are offline until the spring due to keyway root cracks.

In response to a question from Labour MSP Neil Bibby at the Scottish Parliament, Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "We support proposals to extend the operating life of Hunterston B, with the qualification that strict environment and safety criteria continue to be met, and the ONR is satisfied that it can be done safely.

"Prolonging the life of the station would enable it to continue playing a part in meeting the Scottish demand while we increase the proportion of energy generated by the renewables and cleaner thermal generation technologies."

Mr Bibby labelled the Scottish Government's position as 'confusing' in that they were against safer nuclear new build and instead wanted to keep ageing reactors going for longer.

A spokeswoman for EDF said: "The best lifetime judgement of Hunterston B is 2023, and this continues to be supported given the large nuclear safety margins demonstrated through our research work."

The ONR confirmed it has received a safety case for the return to service of reactor 4, with one expected for reactor 3.

As we went to press, reactor 4 is expected return to service on 31 March, and reactor 4 on 30 April.