Coal-fired Power Stations — [Joan Ryan in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 27th April 2016.

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Photo of Amanda Milling Amanda Milling Conservative, Cannock Chase 2:30 pm, 27th April 2016

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for attending this afternoon’s debate, because two of the cooling towers sit in his constituency; we share the cooling towers. He is right that there will be opportunities for homes and enterprise on the site, and later I will discuss some of those opportunities in a bit more detail.

In the short term, the closure of Rugeley B is a blow for the employees, the contractors and the wider supply chain, as well as for the local community, with many clubs and groups using facilities on the site. We cannot be complacent and assume that the area’s resilience will see us through this difficult period. We must be proactive and plan for both the short term and the long term. Of course, my first priority has been to help those people who are directly affected by the potential closure: the workforce, both employees and contractors, and the supply chain. We must ensure that they all get all the support they need at this difficult time.

To give a sense of the scale of the impact, Rugeley B has 150 employees and at least the same number of contractors from across Staffordshire and the midlands; I am pleased so many Staffordshire Members are here this afternoon. Those employees and contractors have worked at the plant for decades. Others with young families have recently bought a home. There is also the wider supply chain, which goes far beyond Rugeley. The impact of the potential closure will be felt in ports and by freight services that serve the power station, and it cannot be overestimated.

The mines and the power stations have been a central part of our local community, with Rugeley B housing facilities including a sports and social club, football and cricket pitches, and even a model railway. If the plant shuts, over the coming months we must find alternatives for the various clubs that will be affected and their 2,000 members. I call on other local community facilities and groups to come forward and offer their support to those clubs and groups that will be affected, and to rehome them, at least for the short term.