THE Coalfields Regeneration Trust has launched its Vision for Longannet, after engaging with those Wee County communities affected by the power station's closure.

The trust says it has identified "connecting communities" as the key to ensuring residents have a say in mitigating the effects of the devastating loss of jobs.

In March, Scottish Power closed the coal-fired Longannet Power Station, the biggest of its kind in the UK, with the loss of 230 direct jobs and an estimated 1,000 indirect jobs, at a cost of £50m a year to the local economy in Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Stirling and Fife.

Within three months, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) had announced its own Longannet initiative dedicated to building on its community empowerment work with seven affected communities, to ensure local people had their say in the work of the government-appointed Longannet Taskforce.

The CRT organised a seminar with local people, businesses, local and national politicians in June and now it has launched an action plan and Vision for Longannet, based on the seminar outcomes.

Scottish CRT trustee Nicky Wilson said: “We believe that the only sustainable route to the regeneration of local communities, whether they have been devastated by the loss of their local pit or a major industrial complex like Longannet, is by ensuring the solutions are driven by those most affected – the local residents.

“That’s the element we believe has been missing from the work of previous taskforces and we hope our Coalfields Longannet Initiative will act as a model that can be rolled out to deal with future industrial disasters, wherever they occur."

Bob Young, Scottish trustee of the CRT and senior Fife Councillor, chaired the action plan launch on Friday last week at Blair Castle, in the shadow of the power station.

He said there were three key elements to the plan, including the establishment of a working group to launch the Longannet Development Trust and the formation of a Youth Action Team to encourage young people to take part in the regeneration of their communities.

Finally, the trust will submit applications to various funders, which could enable the CRT to deliver a Charette – a regeneration drive – in Kincardine, in partnership with the taskforce project team, and to bring in additional development staff.

The action plan also proposes using the heritage of the area, including the power station itself, to develop tourism, boosting transport links and availability of skills training and setting.

Mr Young said: “We have already appointed an employability specialist, Gary Porter, as a dedicated member of our staff, to lead on the initiative, creating regeneration and employment opportunities.

“We have brought together the seven communities who have produced five-year action plans through taking part in our Coalfields Community Futures programme, along with other communities affected by the closure."