Hunterston A Decommissioning Site sits on a promontory of the Ayrshire coast near West Kilbride. The site is sheltered on the landward side by Goldenberry Hill and faces across the Firth of Clyde to the islands of Great Cumbrae and Arran.
After a lengthy public enquiry, permission to build a nuclear power station at Hunterston was granted at the end of July 1957. Work began on the site in August 1957 and the first reactor went critical in September 1963. The reactors first fed power to the grid in February 1964 and July 1964. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, officially opened the station on 22nd September 1964.
The station was Scotland's first civil nuclear generating station and was, at the time of opening, the largest in operation anywhere in the world, at 360MW (e).
The station comprised two Magnox fuelled, graphite moderated, steel pressure vessel reactors, a unique feature being that on load refuelling operations were conducted from below the reactors. Six 60MW turbo alternators provided electricity to the grid. Throughout its operational life, Hunterston 'A' featured at or near the top of the World Nuclear Performance charts.
Reactor 2 was shutdown on 31st December 1989 followed by Reactor 1 on 30th March 1990. Defuelling commenced on 16th August 1990 was completed on 21st January 1995 with the last fuel being despatched from site on 8th February 1995.
The station was built by the South of Scotland Electricity Board and was operated by them until, as part of the privatisation of the electricity supply industry, ownership and responsibility for decommissioning was passed to Scottish Nuclear on 1st April 1990 then Magnox Electric plc on 1st April 1996. On 3rd August 2000, the Nuclear Site Licence was issued to BNFL.