The size of the workforce at Hunterston B is to be cut by nearly a third as the site enters the next stage of its decommissioning, it's been confirmed.

But the station director says it's hoped that compulsory redundancies can be avoided.

The workforce will be reduced to one of 244 by 2026 as a result of the latest "restructuring", compared to a strength of 500 in 2020.

Station director Joe Struthers, confirming the plans, said that once defuelling at Hunterston B was complete, the station and its staff would transfer from EDF to Nuclear Restoration Services (NRS) for decommissioning. 

NRS already manages the Hunterston A site. 

Mr Struthers said it was hoped the reduction in job numbers could be achieved through voluntary redundancy and retirement.

"The new station organisational structure, which we expect to implement sometime in 2026, shows 244 staff roles," he said.

"This is a reduction of less than a third from the current headcount, and there are a number of options open to staff, which means there may not be any compulsory redundancies.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Hunterston B Station Director Joe StruthersHunterston B Station Director Joe Struthers (Image: Newsquest)

"At every stage in the station's lifecycle, it is vital that we have the right number of people, with the right skills, to carry out this important work. 

"Moving from generation to defuelling in 2022 was a big change, and we adapted our organisational structure accordingly.

"This change was managed with no compulsory redundancies. and everyone who wanted to stay working at the site through defuelling secured a role. 

"Defueling activities continue to progress well and, once complete, the station and its staff will transfer from EDF to Nuclear Restoration Services (NRS) who will be responsible for decommissioning the site. NRS already manages the Hunterston A site. 

"The structure and staffing levels will change again for the next stage of decommissioning as the requirements are different.

"We have been working closely with NRS, and our associated trade unions, since the station ended generation in 2022 to understand what skills will be needed and what jobs will be available at this stage. 

"Over the past few days we have shared this information with staff. I know they have been waiting for this information, and have questions, so I have been talking to everyone on site to help them understand what roles and opportunities are available in the new structure.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Hunterston BHunterston B (Image: Newsquest)

"Over the coming months we will be working hard to give people certainty by matching staff to roles in the new structure. 

"We will also be talking to them about options like retirement or voluntary redundancy with enhanced terms while continuing to support employees applying for opportunities elsewhere in EDF."

Mr Struthers, who, like most of the Hunterston B workforce, lives locally, added: " I am part of this community and I understand the importance of local jobs.

"With the support of my management team, I am committed to ensuring that this process ends with a positive outcome for as many people as possible, while preparing the site for safe and successful decommissioning. "

Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson said: "Hunterston B will continue to have a major economic footprint locally for decades as the plant is decommissioned.

“These job losses underline the need to progress the green transition in North Ayrshire as quickly as possible. 

“XLCC’s £1,400 million cable manufacturing facility is a great example of the type of business we need to keep attracting to North Ayrshire.

“It is expected that 900 jobs will be created directly at Hunterston and hundreds more, potentially thousands, through the supply chain.”

Conservative councillor Todd Ferguson said: "The professionalism of the workforce at Hunterston is exceptional.

“Over the past sixty years of low carbon electricity generation the people who have worked there have done so in a safe and efficient manner. They have become an integral part of our communities.

“Once the decision was taken to cease generation and move into the decommissioning phase, it was only a matter of time before the workforce started to wind down.

“It is great to hear that the station management are in dialogue with the workforce about their options moving forward. Understandably there will be anxiety about future employment onsite.

“Over the years having a world leading nuclear industry employer right on our doorstep has been vital for young people looking to get apprenticeships. We know that large employers provide a much needed boost to our local economy. And, in an area with a declining population the workforce has been good for the vibrancy of our local communities.

“It is crucial that we retain these highly skilled professionals in the local community.

“That’s why I am pushing for new nuclear technologies to be considered for Hunterston. So that we can continue to provide low carbon electricity, and continue to provide local employment opportunities for the next sixty years.”"