The Spanish government has approved a four-year extension on an operating permit for the Iberdrola and Endesa operated 466MW Garona nuclear plant, according to Dow Jones.

The decision of approval comes after the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) issued a non-binding recommendation for a ten-year operating permit extension of the plant. It also follows lobbying by companies to have its operating life extended, while environmentalists demanded a shutdown.

According to Spain’s Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian, switching the plant off in four years would not be a problem for Spain’s energy security.

“We currently have an excess of installed capacity in our grid,” Sebastian said. He also confirmed that if that excess capacity were to revert by 2013 due to increasing demand, the nation would have sufficient time to meet the increased demand by developing more renewable energy-generating capacity.

The expected life span of Garona plant had originally been 40 years, which takes it to the end of July 2011.

But the CSN has argued that if certain security measures are met, the life span of the plant could safely be extended beyond that date.

The Spanish government said it plans to phase out nuclear power once life span of present nuclear power stations comes to an end.

But in recent weeks, the government has been ambiguous as to how a plant’s life span is defined.