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£1.5 million set aside by council for National Rail College

Doncaster Council has made £1.5 million available for the National Rail College development in the town.

£1.5 million set aside by council for National Rail College Credit: Doncaster Council

Capital funding of £1.1 million will be put towards pre-construction preparation, including detailed design work and surveys to support the planning application. That money will be returned to the council when government grant funding is secure later this year.

In addition, £400,000 has been approved for the development of the curriculum and developing opportunities for people in the area to access the college when it is up and running.

The College is fundamental to the rail sector's future and Doncaster is right at the heart of it. I am committed to driving our economy forward and the National College of High Speed Rail will continue to do just that. It will enable our existing world-class rail companies to flourish and be a magnet for attracting new private sector investment. This combination of benefits will in turn deliver high quality jobs and sustained economic growth for residents across the borough and wider Sheffield City Region. It is tremendous news that such good progress is being made with this key project.

– Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster

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Watch: Fuel price cut for two rural areas

People in Hawes in North Yorkshire and the NE48 postcode area of Northumberland are to see cuts in fuel prices at local garages.

The Government is extending its rural fuel rebate to 17 more areas across the country which will cut 5p off every litre of fuel.

The scheme has been set up to help people who are currently faced with some of the highest petrol prices in the country. It will run for six years before it is reviewed.

Closure of Ferrybridge power station is 'hammer blow' for workers

The closure of Ferrybridge power station has been described as a hammer blow for the workers.

The plant is to close within a year, with the loss of more than 170 staff jobs and hundreds more contractors.

Owners SSE say the plant is simply uneconomic to run, but add they are considering reopening the gas fired station at Keadby, near Scunthorpe to create jobs.

Chris Kiddey reports:

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Yvette Cooper: Ferrybridge plant closure 'awful' for all concerned

Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford says the closure of Ferrybridge coal plant is 'awful' for everyone concerned.

She also said that she would hold meetings with SSE and the unions to see what can be done to help the workforce.

This is awful news, not just for the 170 people who are employed directly but also for the hundreds of contractors who are set to lose their jobs as well.

I'm seeking urgent meetings with SSE and the unions to see what can be done, especially given that Ferrybridge hasn't reached the end of its natural life. We also need the best support for the workforce. This is devastating for Ferrybridge and the area and comes on the back of job losses at Kellingley Colliery as well. There is no Government plan to support high skilled jobs - either supporting existing jobs, or promoting new high skilled jobs for the future.

– Yvette Cooper

Tata workers set for strike ballot

Thousands more workers at steel giant Tata are to be balloted for industrial action in a row over pensions.

Tata has a plant in Scunthorpe Credit: Press Association

Unite said its 6,000 members at the company will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of action, with the result due on June 5.

Members of Community and the GMB are already voting on strikes, with the result set to be announced next week.

Tata Steel UK has a plant in Scunthorpe.

Unite national officer for steel Paul Reuter said: "Following five months of intensive negotiations where the trade unions offered savings to the company of £850 million, Tata Steel UK has decided that it is ideologically wrong for employees, who have worked hard in an extremely strenuous and physically demanding environment, to be able to retire with the pensions that they were originally promised.

"Tata Steel UK is consulting our members on its proposal to close the pension scheme and to financially penalise workers and their families in retirement. Our members have made it clear that the proposed changes are totally unacceptable.

"Unless Tata Steel UK enters into further meaningful negotiations that would preserve the pension scheme, then the first national industrial action in the industry for 30 years would seem inevitable."

Union warns of winter blackouts after Ferrybridge plant closure

The decision to close Ferrybridge power station increases the threat of winter blackouts, trade union Prospect has warned.

It says the problem could have been avoided if more support had been available for low carbon technologies with vast export potential, including carbon capture and storage and more efficient coal plants.

Prospect official Michael Macdonald said: "This is a consequence of the lack of a coherent plan for decarbonisation. The Government's reliance on significantly higher carbon taxes than the European Union has left Ferrybridge facing a bill of £64 million more than, for example, comparable German power generators and forced the premature closure of a viable plant.

"Not only will this see the loss of 200 highly skilled jobs at the station, and the equivalent in a local economy already reeling from plans to close Kellingley colliery, the loss of a further 1GW reduces the UK capacity margin to virtually zero.

The lack of a clear road map for decarbonisation means the UK is missing out on the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions by 40% through technology that has vast export potential.

It also means large industrial consumers will have to shut down operations or switch to inefficient on-site diesel generation at times of peak demand.

If we are to continue to include gas and coal in the generation mix until 2030, we need a coherent plan for transition to a low carbon future other than further Government subsidises for generation methods that cannot guarantee baseload power and which push up the price for consumers.

– Michael Macdonald

GMB union: Ferrybridge job losses 'devastating news' for workers

An officer from the GMB union has described the job losses at Ferrybridge as 'devastating news' for the workers.

Credit: Press Association

Phil Whitehurst, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This is devastating news for Ferrybridge workers at a station that has years of life left to supply electricity at a fraction of the price of other energy suppliers.

"As things stand the only thing consumers will get from some of these suppliers are higher bills. Unlike Ferrybridge none of the components and little of the labour will be sourced from the UK."

SSE said it was committed to the Ferrybridge site, with a £300 million multi-fuel plant next to the power station due to open before the end of the year. The company has also submitted plans to build another multi-fuel station at the site.

The power station has been operational since 1966 and has two units, which are nearly 50 years old.

Unit 3 is undergoing routine servicing and maintenance and will return to service in August following completion of the planned outage which began in April.

Unit 4 was badly damaged in a serious fire at the site last year and SSE has been pursuing options to reinstate the equipment, but this activity will now stop, although the work to demolish the damaged equipment will continue.

Unit 4 will therefore be removed from service with immediate effect.

The announcement is another blow to the coal industry.

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