Campaigners in legal bid to block coal power station
CAMPAIGNERS protesting against Scottish Government plans to build a coal-fuelled power station at Hunterston are to launch a legal challenge, claiming that locals were not properly consulted.
The proposed power station, close to the tourist town of Largs, was a late addition to the National Planning Framework (NPF) published in February last year. Maggie Kelly, of Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston (Conch) and a local resident, 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 plans were not placed in the NPF until last September, four months after the initial consultation process was closed. As the area was unaffected by the original proposals, the local community council did not comment on the document and was not considered among "interested parties" and, therefore, was not informed of the change. According to Fairlie Community Council, it was only in April this year that locals became fully aware of the plans.
A planning application is expected to come before North Ayrshire Council this month. However, despite facing legal costs of more than 100,000 if they lose, the campaigners are appealing for a judicial review of the plans on the grounds that the Scottish Government has not consulted the public according to standards required by European law and that assessments that were carried out did not adequately examine alternatives to a coal-fired power station.
The planned 1,600MW power station will be built by Ayrshire Power, a collaboration of Peel Energy, which also runs Clyde Port, and the Danish-based company Dong Energy. The company has said that the facility will be carbon-capture ready and, when this is running at full capacity, it will be capable of capturing 90 per cent of emissions.
But protesters say the technology does not exist in a commercially viable form yet. Fairlie resident Tony Meehan said: "The key issue is that the information that we received from Ayrshire Power is a load of 'ifs', 'buts' and 'maybes'."
Under current legislation, coal-fuelled power stations could be allowed to run without carbon capture system until 2025. Mr Meehan said locals fear that this will result in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of ash and being pumped into the air.
Brian Wilson, a former local MP and policy adviser for Ayrshire Power, said the facility would never be considered if it did adhere to strict environmental legislation.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The National Planning Framework has been subject to wide-ranging consultation, followed by a period of extensive parliamentary scrutiny. Projects designated as national developments in the NPF will still require planning permission or equivalent consents."
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