For all the greenwash and propaganda of Dong, Peel and ‘Ayrshire Power Limited’, the proposed new 1.6 GW coal-fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire is still a shocking example of dirty development, imposed on communities that really don’t want it. But CONCH (Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston) is fighting back, challenging the power station through the courts in Edinburgh.
Ayrshire Power Limited’s CONsultation
A few months ago we reported on this new company and its various names. Its office appears to have moved from Wimbledon to Glasgow now – at least it’s getting closer to Ayrshire. But more importantly, it’s been consulting here there and everywhere in an effort to show that it really cares what people living near-by think. They’ve consulted Councils, Community Councils, MPs, MSPs, ministers and are holding public exhibitions.
Mr Miller said: “In the interests of transparency and to help establish an informed healthy dialogue with the community in the run up to our local exhibitions, it’s important that everyone knows who we have been consulting with in recent months. We are fully committed to the consultation process and hope to work alongside residents to help us finalise the plans”
But wait a minute – because this project is part of the National Planning Framework (NPF), there isn’t actually a way of rejecting it, is there? Last December the power station was quietly added to the priority list in the NPF, making it one of 14 priority projects along with airport expansion and a new road bridge over the Firth of Forth, a full eight months after the main public consultation on the framework had closed. According to the Guardian the decision to add Hunterston to the NPF list of priority projects was publicised in an obscure official journal, the Edinburgh Gazette, with a six-week consultation period (which, needless to say, no one knew about).
CONCH, along with Planning Democracy and the Environmental Law Centre on 23rd September submitted a petition for judicial review to the civil Court of Session in Edinburgh, accusing ministers of breaking planning law and European environmental law by failing to properly consult them. They claim that the government was legally required to use local newspapers in Ayrshire and ensure that residents were fully notified of the proposal.
Maggie Kelly from CONCH said: “The proposed power station would have a devastating impact on our community, damaging our health, our livelihoods and destroying the local environment. Yet under the National Planning Framework, we have been denied the opportunity to object to this major development.”
The SNP has refused to discuss the judicial review but responded by saying “The public will be able to have their say on matters such as siting, design and the minimisation and mitigation of potential environmental effects as part of the development management process, including any public inquiry.” Thank you very much, what an open and transparent process, thank goodness the SNP takes consulting the communities it serves so seriously.
Scotland: a dumping ground for dirty industry
Scotland is used to being treated as a dumping ground for Britain’s unwanted industry and developments (such as Faslane Nuclear Base and MoD weapons testing sites, coal mines, etc), but now other European countries are getting in on the act with Dong (which has a 75% stake in Ayrshire Power Limited, a joint venture with conglomerate Peel Energy) “outsourcing” the dirty end of its energy portfolio to Scotland’s west coast, as Fred Pearce of the Guardian says “as if Scotland were a banana republic somewhere in the developing world”. This seems a rather apt description of the way the current SNP government is conducting itself when it comes to environmentally and socially injust mega-projects.
Dong wants in on the stampede towards new coal that “world leading” governments on climate change such as we have here in Scotland are participating in. But a power station such as is proposed at Hunterston wouldn’t go down well in Denmark – the Danish government last December proposed that the EU should limit carbon emissions from new power plants to 500g per kilowatt hour – far too low to accommodate a coal-fired plant.
So just as rich nations have done for years with polluting industries that we couldn’t possibly have here, they’re shipped to poorer countries and imposed on people who have even less of a say (or no say at all, thanks to the NPF).
Dong even goes as far as claiming that it is “part of the solution to climate change”. No Dong, you are a part of the problem. If projects such as a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston are solutions then we truly are done for. Where are the Advertising Standards Authority when it matters? Oh yeah, busy stopping communities near open cast coal mines claiming that their health is being affected (http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/non_broadcast/Adjudication+Details.htm?Adjudication_id=39941).
But the climate-stopping greewash doesn’t end there – Dong says that it will add some biofuels to the coal in the boiler to create a “super-efficient multi-fuel power plant”, and that our old favourite Carbon Capture and Storage will miraculously invent itself just in time for the power station to come online and capture all the CO2.
The WWF estimates this new power station’s carbon emissions will be 6.9m tonnes a year, meaning it would still be outlawed by the proposed new EU rules. And we’re still no closer to seeing any of this clean coal that everyone’s talking about.
Its reassuring to know that as the Earth’s ecosystems go into final meltdown and hopes for lasting change and real solutions move further out of reach, these companies are building power stations that regulations should disallow, and consulting us over plans we have no say over.
See Planning Democracy Take Action and Help CONCH for what you can do to help the campaign