Fine slashed as Scottish Power wins appeal for accident at Longannet

Appeal Court judges slashed a fine imposed on Scottish Power after an accident at Longannet Power Station
Appeal Court judges slashed a fine imposed on Scottish Power after an accident at Longannet Power Station

Energy firm Scottish Power has had the fine imposed for an accident at Longannet slashed by more than a quarter by appeal judges.

A plant controller was scalded after being engulfed by steam that escaped from a defective valve three years ago.

David Roscoe had to undergo major skin graft surgery and was unable to return to work after the horror in October 2013.

Scottish Power Generation Limited, a subsidiary of Scottish Power and operators of Longannet which has now closed, was fined £1.75 million at Dunfermline Sheriff Court in July after admitting health and safety breaches.

The company immediately announced it would appeal against the level of the financial penalty, arguing Sheriff Charles MacNair had “erred” in applying new English sentencing guidelines that had produced an “excessive” fine.

In a written judgment the Lord Justice General Lord Carloway, who heard the appeal with Lord Brodie and Lord Bracadale, said the sheriff’s reasoning in imposing the original fine was “uncertain” and reduced it to £1.2 million.

In July Sheriff MacNair heard the company had known about the fault with the valve since 2009 when it discovered an index plate was missing. At that time the valve was “locked off” with a chain and padlock in the short term to prevent its use, but it was never repaired.

On October 12, 2013, Mr Roscoe, who was 51 at the time, saw steam coming from the valve and when he tried to stop this by turning it slightly he was badly scalded by steam, sustaining severe burns to his legs and injuries to his arms and neck.

He later spent four weeks in the burns unit of Glasgow Royal Infirmary and required extensive skin grafts to both legs. Mr Roscoe was unable to return to work and medically retired last December.

Sheriff MacNair judged Scottish Power’s level of culpability for the incident as “high”. He said there were too many safety questions to which they had no answers.

He originally imposed a find of £2.5 million, but a discount was given for the timing of the plea.

Since the accident Scottish Power has settled a “substantial” financial claim with Mr Roscoe.