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Delight as plans for new coal-fired power station shelved

26 June 2012

Campaigners from the Say No to Hunterston Coalition have reacted with delight to the news that Peel Group has withdrawn its application for a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston in Ayrshire. [1]

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland, said:

"Peel have finally seen sense over the most unpopular planning application ever in Scotland. With the local community and North Ayrshire Council against it, over 22,000 objections and no chance of winning the public inquiry, walking away was the only sensible option.

"This was always the wrong application in the wrong place. Scotland has huge renewable energy resources and several promising sites to try out carbon capture. The last thing we need is a new coal-fired power station hiding behind a green figleaf. At a time when we are supposed to be meeting tough climate and ambitious renewable energy targets the Hunterston proposal would have increased Scotland's climate emissions and trashed valuable local wildlife sites. Let's hope a proposal like this never sees the light of day again."

Aedán Smith, Head of Planning and Development at RSPB Scotland said:

“This is absolutely fantastic news. This unnecessary and hugely unpopular proposal would have completely destroyed part of a nationally important wildlife site and seriously undermined Scotland’s ambitions to be a world leader on climate change.

“Although it is disappointing that any developer would even consider such a damaging proposal, we are pleased that Peel have finally recognised the absurdity of these plans and made a sound decision that will save everybody the further time and expense of fighting them. Hopefully we can now focus on delivering the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions we urgently require instead of arguing about this outdated project.

“We would be happy to work with Peel and others to ensure that Scotland’s energy needs can be met through developing energy sustainably and in the right places, and the important wildlife of the Hunterston site can be safeguarded in future.”

The Say No to Hunterston Campaign is made up of the following members:

o Church of Scotland
o Christian Aid Scotland
o Friends of the Earth Scotland
o Greenpeace
o Planning Democracy
o Oxfam Scotland
o RSPB Scotland
o Scottish Wildlife Trust
o World Development Movement Scotland
o WWF Scotland

Notes to Editors

[1] Press Release from Big Partnership on behalf of Peel Energy

26th June 2012

Ayrshire Power puts power station with CCS on hold

Ayrshire Power Limited (APL), the company which submitted a planning application for a new multi-fuel power station with carbon capture and storage at Hunterston, North Ayrshire, has announced that it is withdrawing its planning application and withdrawing from the current CCS demonstration project funding competitions.

APL has taken this decision due to the level of uncertainty surrounding the ability to secure the necessary financial investment to build the power station in the foreseeable economic climate.

The decision means that the Public Local Inquiry for the development will not now proceed this autumn.

Hunterston, Scotland’s largest coal terminal, remains a strategically important facility for Scotland, especially as part of the Scottish Government’s low carbon energy policy combining unrivalled deepwater port facilities and direct access to the UK’s rail network via the development’s bespoke railhead. Over 500 direct and indirect jobs are dependent on the site.

Commenting on the decision, Muir Miller, APL’s project director said:
“Whilst we believe we have a strong case to succeed in the planning inquiry, we cannot proceed with the significant risk that the current power station design and fuel mix could not be funded and built in the necessary timetable following the grant of consent.

“However, we remain convinced that this project could give Scotland a superb opportunity to lead the development of full-scale carbon capture and storage, which will be vital in reducing global emissions and accords with Scottish Government policy to cut carbon emission and back-up intermittent renewable energy supplies.

“The project would also bring a large number of new jobs and new economic opportunities to a hard-pressed area which has been impacted particularly badly by the recession. The opportunity to develop a CCS cluster on the west coast of the UK that could store over one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 remains an exciting prospect.

“We still believe that new coal-fired power stations fitted with carbon capture and storage will play an important part in plugging the energy gap until alternative sources of low carbon energy can replace fossil fuels. Hunterston remains an ideal location for such a power station. However, the timing of the economic slowdown and funding uncertainty have not worked in our favour. We will now take some time to consider our options and determine under what circumstances we will revisit our proposals.”

-Ends-

Media contact: Stephen McCrossan on 0141 333 9585 or stephen.mccrossan@bigpartnership.co.uk.

Notes to Editors:
Ayrshire Power Ltd

Ayrshire Power Ltd is owned by Peel Energy which is at the forefront of delivering low carbon energy for the UK. The company has a balanced portfolio of energy generation and development including wind, tidal power and biomass.

Peel Energy is part of the Peel Group, a leading real estate, transport and infrastructure investment company with assets under management approaching £6bn, employing some 5,000 people.

[2] There have been around 22,000 objections to the Hunterston coal plant proposals, making this the most unpopular application ever in Scotland.

The Portencross Coast SSSI includes important areas of sandflats, mudflats and eelgrass beds. The SSSI is one of the best remaining examples of inter-tidal habitat left on the Outer Clyde, and provides an important feeding ground for wintering birds such as oystercatcher, curlew, wigeon, eider and shelduck. The proposed plan would have involved infilling and destroying this valuable habitat and the loss of the habitat used by these birds as feeding and roosting areas.

For more information on the proposed plans to build a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston see http://www.rspb.org.uk/hunterston

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