A WATCHDOG'S vital scrutiny meeting scheduled to take placed before troubled reactors are switched back on at Hunterston Power Station has been cancelled - because of the general election.

The Hunterston Site Stakeholders Group had been due to meet on December 5 where they would have quizzed EDF on the decision to reactivate two reactors blighted by safety concerns.

It was revealed this week that reactor four is due to go back online fully from February 15 and reactor three on January 15.

At the quarterly meetings, held in public, councillors and local community council groups can question nuclear chiefs about the power plant and its operation.

Councillor Ian Murdoch believes that it is imperative that a scrutiny meeting takes place before the reactors are switched back on after cracks were found in their graphite cores.

The acceptable threshold of cracks has been extended from 350 to 700 by regulators ONR, who recently gave permission for Hunterston reactor 4 to be brought back online for a four month spell.

Cllr Murdoch said: "The stakeholders meeting has been cancelled but I don't see how the general election should effect having these meetings?

"There are so many issues and concerns from members of the public about Hunterston - and we will not have the opportunity to ask questions.

"The meeting has been totally removed from the calendar at a vital time, the next one is not due until March 2020.

"How are the stakeholder members able to scrutinise the proposals to restart the reactors?".

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall said his politial rival was being 'alarmist'.

He added: "The period between now and the general election is known as Purdah, which means government agencies such as the nuclear agencies are suspended until the election is over.

"The ONR is a government sponsored body and they are not able to take part in any meetings during this period.

"Councillor Murdoch is being alarmist."

Acting station manager Paul Forrest issued a latest update to members of the site stakeholders committee this week by letter.

He said: "We are continuing to work on the safety cases for Hunterston B but we now expect reactor four to come offline on 10 December.

"Once we have taken the unit offline we will carry out further graphite inspections and report the results to the regulators ONR.

"I am proud of the performance of the unit and the team at Hunterston B. Energy market rules require us to provide our most likely view of return to service dates.

"For reactor four this is now February 15 while reactor three remains unchanged for January."

The energy giants say they have completed an extensive inspection programme, to 'ensurie that the power station continues to safely generate low carbon electricity and play a significant role in Scotland’s energy production'.

An ONR spokesman said: "We have published the report that would have been used at that meeting on our website.

"In terms of the safety case, we received the safety case for Reactor 3 in June and our specialist inspectors are undertaking a detailed assessment, based on the evidence provided by EDF Energy. Permission will only be granted for the reactor to return to service if we are satisfied that it is safe to do so."

The laison meetings are run by Magnox and it was their decision to cancel due to purdah.

A spokeswoman for EDF Energy said: "The ONR is currently considering the safety case for reactor three. Any questions about safety case decisions should be referred directly to them.

"We are currently in contact with the chair and vice chair of the SSG and will continue to maintain this dialogue."