Council calls on Boris to help save Barking Power Station

Barking Power Station

Barking Power Station - Credit: Archant

Council bosses will appeal for cash to Boris Johnson and the government over the coming months in the hope of saving Barking’s embattled power station.

Operators of the £360million gas-fired station, which provided backup power during the 2012 Olympics, announced last week that negotiations began in July to close the site due to a lack of National Grid contracts.

That could see the plant completely shut and decommissioned within two years.

Speaking at last Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Cameron Geddes, member for regeneration said: “If we needed the power station as a back-up for the Olympics, what happens if we have a particularly bad winter – do we not need it then?

“Closing Barking Power Station is an extremely short-sighted decision.”

The site has not been generating power since the summer, and is currently seeking business rate discounts from the council for as long as the station is unused.

Measurers agreed upon by members at the Town Hall include plans to request urgent intervention from the Mayor of London and Westminster to prevent the loss of a power station “that can play a critical role in ensuring power supplies to meet London’s growth”.

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Notes in the agenda described the situation as “almost absurd”.

Gas prices have been relatively high compared with wholesale electricity prices.

And stations with relatively low efficiency grades, such as Barking, have struggled to make a profit.

Built in 1995, the station has a 1,000MW capacity – enough to power half a million homes. Operated by Thames Power Services Ltd, as of July it employed 38 people.

“The proposal to close the power station and embark on these consultations is taken in the context of the current adverse market conditions for gas-fired power generation,” station owners Barking Power Ltd said back in July.

“If implemented, the full closure of the station is expected to be completed within two years.”

The need for more power could be even greater this winter.

The National Grid warned on Tuesday the country’s spare electricity capacity could drop to a seven-year low.

Expected to run at just four per cent capacity this winter – compared with 17pc three years ago – the grid announced it will pay big firms to switch off on cold evenings to conserve power.

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