I was lucky enough to be invited to accompany Amina Lone, the Labour Parliamentary candidate, on a tour of Heysham Power Stations last week.
I’ve lived here all my life yet I’ve never actually done a tour of the stations.
Amina was eager to engage with the station directors over electricity prices and fuel poverty; I was less keen to do so after learning that one was a Villa supporter and the other (even worse) an Everton Toffee
We met at the impressive Visitor’s Centre which, we were told, expects to welcome its 10,000th visitor on Monday, March 9.
The centre is a fabulous place and whilst Amina was discussing the important issues of fuel prices and fuel poverty, I was enjoying the experiments in the centre, joining up the electrodes and trying to get the little lamp to work.
I’ve always known that the stations play an important part in our local economy although I didn’t appreciate how much EDF actually contribute. 95 per cent of the staff, including the two station directors, live within six miles of the station and with an annual wage bill in excess of £80m; that’s an awful lot of money going directly into the local economy.
In addition to this, there’s also all the money that’s paid to local companies who supply goods and services to the stations (and on a personal note, I’m very pleased to report that EDF sponsor one of our carnival trophies and they will also be having a float in this year’s carnival parade).
It really brought it home to me what an important part of our lives and local economy both of the power stations are and will be, for the foreseeable future.
On our tour we were shown the work taking place at Heysham 2 linked to its regular shutdown, described as a large MOT. We saw people working in the turbine hall and in the reactor hall, many of whom settle in Morecambe for a few months,
which again brings valuable investment into the local area. It was reassuring to learn and witness first hand the incredible high degree of security and planning which goes into all aspects of the power stations operation and maintenance.
Amina was eager to engage with the station directors over electricity prices and fuel poverty; I was less keen to do so after learning that one was a Villa supporter and the other (even worse) an Everton Toffee.
However, being in the same room, it was difficult not to hear the discussions and it was actually very interesting to listen in. Heysham Power Station currently supplies around four million homes every day, which includes Lancashire and most of Greater Manchester. Re-investment is needed to build new power stations and keep the lights on in the future, but our politicians and the energy companies also need to find ways of making energy affordable.
Amina outlined her ideas for tackling this, which she will be pursuing if successful in the elections in May.
I would thoroughly recommend this tour, which usually takes a couple of hours. The visitor centre is open six days a week, although you must book in advance.