Scottish consumers stand to benefit from a decision to extend the lifespan of the Torness nuclear power station, according to experts.

The stay of execution for the East Lothian plant could help to keep electricity bills stable.

But the announcement sparked a furious row as Scottish ministers accused the UK Government of "deterring" investment in renewables and Labour and the Conservatives said the SNP risked letting the lights go out.

The Scottish Greens also claimed that Scotland’s energy policy was being dictated by a private French firm.

The controversy erupted after energy giant EDF announced that Torness, near Dunbar, will have seven extra years added to its lifespan.

The facility, which currently produces enough power for two million homes and employs more than 700 people, had been due to close in 2023, but will now remain operational until 2030.

The Scottish Government opposes the building of any new nuclear plants.

But SNP ministers say that they are not against extending the life of current operations.

Experts said that the move could help keep down household electricity costs, but warned that the effect could be difficult to demonstrate as Torness accounts for a small amount of UK energy creation.

Renewable electricity generation also now provides half of Scotland’s electricity consumption

A government spokesman said it "supports life extensions for existing nuclear power stations, where the environmental and safety requirements continue to be met. We recognise the professionalism of the staff at Torness and Hunterston.

“At a time when UK Government policy is causing other power stations in Scotland and across the UK to close prematurely and deterring investment in key renewables we will continue to make the point to the UK Government that we are very concerned about the security of supply in Scotland.

"The First Minister has previously raised this with the Prime Minister.”

He added that ministers would spend the next few months working towards an over-arching energy strategy for Scotland.

Sarah Beattie Smith, the Green Party's infrastructure and investment spokesman, accused EDF of failing to consult on its decision.

She said: "EDF has just decided that it is extending the life of Torness and there's absolutely nothing the Scottish Government can do about that, and, in particular, there's nothing the local community can do.

"This is a private corporation making a choice about the future of our energy supply for Scotland and it's got implications for the next 14 years.

"We should be focusing on renewable, sustainable, clean energy for the future, that can actually sustain us into a clean, green future for Scotland."

Dr Richard Dixon, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, called on the UK Government to focus on renewables and energy efficiency "instead of continuing to chase the nuclear dream".

He also accused EDF of making the Torness announcement to distract attention from their "repeated failure" to make a final decision on whether or not to build an expensive new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called the move a "short-term, pragmatic decision".

He added: "Where the country faces a real challenge is with our long-term energy needs and meeting our climate change obligations."

Labour MSP for East Lothian, Iain Gray, said that the move was “great news” for the area.

He said: “Torness provides hundreds of highly skilled, well paid jobs locally...This is good news for Scotland too, because we very much need the electricity which Torness supplies, especially as it does so consistently, whatever the weather, and without emitting carbon dioxide.

"The truth is the SNP government have no coherent energy strategy at all, and Torness remains key to keeping the lights on whether they like it or not.”

Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Murdo Fraser claimed that the decision would be a "huge relief" to the Scottish Government "which has no long-term plan for keeping the lights on in Scotland. While the SNP may pretend to disapprove of nuclear energy, this announcement shows just how crucial it is."