ScottishPower is being accused of “blanking” bids for cash grants to help communities ravaged by the closure of Longannet Power Station.
Members of the Longannet Initiative Strategic Partnership (LISP)are angry at what’s claimed to have been a series of failures to address any of the damage caused by the shut-down two years ago.
The LISP was set up to give local people a say in the work of the Holyrood-backed Longannet Task Force.
The closure spelled the end of 230 jobs and an estimated 1,000 indirect jobs at a cost of £50million a year to the area’s economy.
ScottishPower denies it has taken no interest in the fate of the communities which served the power station, and says grants body the Scottish Power Foundation is independent, and makes awards on their own specific merits.
It says it aims to contact the LISP in a bid to discuss the group’s catalogue of serious concerns.
However with the start of a four-year demolition of the former plant now underway, the LISP claims Scottish Power has “done nothing” to communicate with local communities, or to tackle the economic fallout.
Now, with the announcement of awards across the country from the Scottish Power Foundation, the group says the latest failure of Longannet to win grant aid shows the area is being “blanked”,
Trevor Docherty, a member of the partnership, and Treasurer of Kincardine Development Trust said: “It is absolutely appalling that the message ScottishPower seems to be sending to the local community is: “We have shut up shop and you are getting nothing”.
“They are a multi-national, which has reaped the financial benefits of this power station for almost 50 years, but now they don’t want to engage with the community in any way, and they certainly don’t seem to want to spend a penny helping us recover from their plant’s closure.”
Another member of LISP, Kincardine Community Council chairman Donald Campbell said: “The former Kincardine Power station was demolished 20 years ago, but Scottish Power have done nothing with this site, and there is a fear that the same again will happen with Longannet”.
Nicky Wilson Scottish Trustee of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust said: “We are the only non-governmental organisation which has taken positive action to help Kincardine, the West Fife Villages and all the other areas hit by the power station closure.
“We invested £250,000 of our own funds to convert the former bank building in Kincardine into a state of the art training and enterprise hub with matched funding from the Scottish Government via Fife Council.
“But our application to the Scottish Power Foundation for funding to offer employability skills training courses was rejected out of hand.”
Replying to LISP’s claims that ScottishPower has “thrown local communities to the wolves”, a spokesperson
said: “ScottishPower is actively engaged with communities surrounding Longannet.
“The Valleyfield Liaison Group meets on a regular basis, and all local community councils are invited to attend.
“Most do, and there is an opportunity to discuss community initiatives.
“We are also in regular contact with Fife Council regarding the ongoing demolition works and long term planning for the future of the site.
“Our community team will contact the Longannet Initiative Strategic Partnership, and we believe that we can work positively with them going forward.
“The ScottishPower Foundation is an independent charity that reviews all funding requests impartially. Funding awards are purely made based on the merits of individual projects against very specific criteria.
“Any group that was unsuccessful in applying for funding was notified in January.”