Thousands oppose plans for new Hunterston coal plant

image captionAyrshire Power wants to build a new coal-fired plant at Hunterston

More than 14,000 people have objected to plans for a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston in Ayrshire, it has been claimed.

Ayrshire Power wants to build a plant with experimental carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at the site.

But campaign groups say thousands oppose the scheme which they claim will harm wildlife and the environment.

Scottish ministers will now make a final decision after the official consultation period closed on Friday.

The proposals, by Ayrshire Power, which is owned by Peel Energy Ltd, are for a site between the existing Clydeport coal handling facility at the Hunterston Terminal, and the Hunterston B nuclear power plant.

The developers said the facility could provide energy to three million homes for decades, while capturing and storing damaging carbon emissions if that technology can be proven.

CCS technology would remove carbon dioxide produced by the station. This would then be turned into liquid using chemicals and stored underground.

The energy company also claimed the new power station would generate a "significant" number of jobs in the area, with up to 1,600 people being employed during construction and 160 permanent jobs when the power station is running.

Opposition to the scheme, however, has seen several organisations form a coalition in an attempt to have it halted.

RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the World Development Movement Scotland, Christian Aid Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Church of Scotland claim the plant would be "climate wrecking" and lead to "the destruction of a large part of a nationally important wildlife site".

Aedán Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland, said: "This incredible show of support for our campaign reveals just how angry people are at this scheme.

'Permanent damage'

"If permitted this would result in the direct loss of a large part of a nationally important wildlife site, and permanently damage the best remaining inter-tidal mudflat on the outer Clyde, important for tens of thousands of birds and designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

"I am sure that Scottish Ministers, after introducing world-leading climate change legislation in 2009, will say a firm 'no thanks' to this inappropriate proposal."

Ayrshire Power said these groups were opposing technology which could be used to protect the environment.

Project director, Muir Miller, said: "The irony is that these groups are opposing, however sincerely, the very technology that can do most to tackle global warming.

"Since coal will continue to be the dominant global fossil fuel for power generation for the medium to long term, we must find ways to generate low carbon electricity from it."

"By far the biggest contributor to reducing global carbon dioxide emissions will be to fit coal fired power stations with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology - and Scotland can lead this process by developing clean coal technologies."

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