THE future of the Fiddlers Ferry site remains unclear with the council saying it is 'too early' to discuss what happens next.

It was revealed last week that the Cuerdley power station is to be closed by next year with the loss of 160 jobs.

Residents had hoped that the land could be included in the local plan with the vast site possibly being available for employment or even housing.

But Warrington Borough Council says much work needs to be done before plans for the future are discussed.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead said: "We are consulting with SSE, the owners of Fiddlers Ferry power station, to discuss the details and timescales of their closure arrangements.

"We need to be clear on the details of its decommissioning.

"At this stage, it is too early to discuss the future of the site, particularly as it would potentially require a major clean up and reclamation."

It is understood work to clear the area could take years.

Scottish and Southern Energy has confirmed that the coal-fire power station, an icon of the town's skyline for nearly 50 years, will shut by the end of March 2020.

The jobs of nearly 160 people who work at the site have been put under threat by the move, although SSE says it will 'seek to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible'.

Stephen Wheeler, managing director of thermal energy at SSE, said: "The proposed closure of SSE's coal-fired power station at Fiddlers Ferry is a very difficult decision because of the impact on our employees and contractors at the station, their families and the local community.

"Financially, the station is making significant losses and our projections show that this will continue to be the case as the UK looks to phase out coal-fired generation by 2025 at latest.

"At nearly 50 years old, the station is unable to compete with more efficient and modern gas and renewable generation.

"We have a talented and dedicated team at Fiddlers Ferry and our priority is to support employees and ensure they have a range of options available to them for the future.

"SSE is proud of the social and economic contributions the station and our employees have made for the local area and wider society."