A “KEY MILESTONE” in bringing 1,000 jobs and a train manufacturing plant to West Fife was reached yesterday (Wednesday) as Fife Council approved site plans.

Spanish train maker Talgo are now poised to build a world class facility at the former Longannet Power Station site.

The planning consent follows the news that Talgo UK, Scottish Enterprise and Transport Scotland recently signed a jointly agreed framework for the establishment of part of the Longannet site as a manufacturing base for Talgo UK.

Jon Veitch, Talgo UK Managing Director, said: "I want to pay tribute to all who have worked hard to ensure that a compliant and environmentally-sensitive application was submitted and approved.

"By taking part of the site, Talgo UK can now continue to develop our plan to bring ‘true manufacturing’ back to the UK rail industry – sourcing from the UK supply-chain, and keeping more money in the local, regional, and national economies of the UK.

"Talgo UK's factory, once implemented, will create 1,000 jobs on site, and many thousands more will be created or protected in the supply-chain.

"I am conscious of the great responsibility that we have, to ensure that our plans are delivered sensitively and sympathetically to the environment and also to the heritage of the area.

"We will share more of our thoughts in due course, and ensure that we engage with local people and their representatives, to keep them fully informed as further developments occur."

The application - submitted by Scottish Enterprise - sought to redevelop the former Longannet Power Station site, with a mix of business, general industrial use, and storage and distribution.

Talgo announced in November last year that Longannet was their preferred destination to build a base to develop their signature high-speed trains.

The former power station was closed by Scottish Power in March 2016 and the demolition of its buildings continues with hopes the phase will be completed by 2020-21.

Talgo currently have a “number of exciting opportunities” in the UK and internationally which would allow them to start work on building a plant once a contract is secured.

The factory is expected to take between 18 and 20 months to construct.

The manufacturer has made the shortlist to provide trains for the HS2 railway project, a contract worth £2.7 billion.

Members of Fife Council’s Central and West Planning Committee approved Scottish Enterprise's plans - the national economic development agency - to redevelop the Longannet site on Wednesday.

Fife Council Co-Leader, Cllr David Ross, said: “The Longannet site is nationally significant and critically important locally. The planning permission granted today marks a significant step forward in the journey towards creating new employment and economic opportunities in the Kincardine area and beyond.

“This latest milestone builds upon the work of the Longannet Taskforce, whose focus has been to support the wider regeneration of the area following the power station’s closure in 2016.

"We now look forward to showcasing the site to ensure that this location, which has driven past industrial revolutions, will once again be a catalyst towards business activity that drives a renewed innovation-led economy.”

Fife Council Co-Leader, Cllr David Alexander, added: “Planning application approval will see approximately 74 hectares of the site made available for investors into the Kingdom and will boost the economy within South and West Fife and across the wider region. 

“We also seek to secure secondary investment within Fife, recognising that the Longannet site and its infrastructure connections give rise to significant opportunities across the wider area. Around 1,000 jobs are expected to be created at Longannet.”

The plans to regenerate the site of Scotland’s last coal-fuelled power station also support the council’s wider aim of reducing carbon emissions.

Newly re-elected MP for Dunfermline and West Fife Douglas Chapman, was delighted that approval was given.

He said: "I am delighted Fife Council has approved Talgo’s planning application as this can now bring some vitality to the villages in West Fife.

“The 1,000 jobs that have been promised by the Spanish train manufacturer will provide a real boost to the local West Fife economy.

“As former mining areas, villages like Kincardine, Oakley and Valleyfield have a rich commitment to hard work and they are still full of talented people.

"A critical part of the decision by Talgo to bring their train manufacturing plant here was the quality of our people and the level of connectivity between the Scottish Government, Fife Council and the inward investment teams at Scottish Enterprise in helping deliver the project.

"Having had several meetings with senior management from Talgo, I am extremely excited by the projects they are planning on bringing to Longannet.

“Not only will this bring a significant number of jobs to the area but could also mean reopening the West Fife rail-link could now become an even more realistic opportunity.”

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Mark Ruskell also welcomed the decision.

He said: "The prospect of 1,000 skilled jobs coming to Longannet is a huge boost to communities in Clackmannanshire and West Fife.

"The development also opens up the possibility of reopening the Dunfermline to Alloa and Stirling rail route which will once again connect communities along the now largely defunct freight line.

"This project shows the potential a Scottish Green New Deal could have in transforming our economy as we move away from polluting industries and embrace the technologies of the future.

"Talgo has made an impressive start to working with surrounding communities and absolutely understand the need to deliver a strong legacy.”

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which has its Scottish headquarters in Kincardine, believe the redevelopment will be a "massive boost to the local economy".

Nicky Wilson, trustee, said: “We welcome the decision from Fife Council to grant outline planning permission for the redevelopment of Longannet by Scottish Enterprise.

"This decision, which will hopefully lead to Talgo building its new factory on the site on the edge of Kincardine - employing 1,000 people and supporting a further 5,000 jobs - is a massive boost to the local economy.

“The area has a ready supply of skilled labour and good transport links to the rest of the country, but communities have been badly affected by the closure of the coal-fired power station more than three years ago.

“The redevelopment of the site, including the Talgo factory, will help rejuvenate such communities and build on the work we do to support former mining areas.”