Plans for first coal power plant since 1970s

  • Date: 03/06/10

The plant, at Hunterston in Ayrshire, would use experimental carbon capture storage (CCS) technology, which removes carbon dioxide emissions and stores them underground.

The £3 billion proposal is the first of its kind in the UK but faces strong opposition from local people and environmental groups, who argue that it will damage local wildlife.

But the final decision on the planning application will be made by Alex Salmond’s SNP administration, which wants to abandon nuclear power and replace it with new technologies such as CCS.

Ayrshire Power, the applicants, said the plant could meet the energy needs of three million homes and create 160 jobs, with 1,600 people working at the peak of construction.

Muir Miller, the project director, said: “We are pleased that our application has now progressed to the next stage of the planning process.

“We believe our proposal supports the UK and Scottish governments’ commitment to leading the way in developing CCS to assist in decarbonising the UK’s electricity sector by 2030.”

The development is earmarked for a site between the existing Clydeport coal handling depot at the Hunterston terminal and Hunterston B nuclear power plant. It would burn coal and biomass fuel with “strict emissions control”, the firm said.

It is the first application in the UK since rules forcing all new plants to be fitted with CCS technology were introduced last year.

The proposal, first submitted in March, has now been checked by officials and the public can formally table objections until July 15.

MSPs have already made clear their opposition to the station in a symbolic vote at Holyrood, backing a Green Party motion by 66 votes to 26.

Patrick Harvie, Green party co-leader, said: “The era of new coal-fired power stations is over, and this plant must never be permitted to go ahead.

“A new coal-fired power station would inevitably mean new opencast coal here in Scotland or dirty coal imports from overseas.”

Tim Cowen, from campaign group Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston (Conch), called on Scottish ministers to reject the application.

“If the Scottish government support a dirty coal-fired power station at Hunterston it would make a mockery of their commitment to cut carbon emissions and will make it impossible for them to reach their own climate change targets,” he said.

Ross Finnie, Liberal Democrat MSP for the West of Scotland, said: “This is a flawed application. Carbon capture technology should be tested on existing coal-fired power stations like Longannet.

“Only once it has been tested and proved should it be rolled out.”



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