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hunterston-article-images-4Following the announcement last year that DONG energy, the Danish energy company, wants to build a £3 billion, 1,600 Mega Watt coal-fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire on the Scottish West Coast, more information about the project has recently emerged – but it only gets more confusing.

Who is building what and who owns who?

For a start, DONG energy and Peel Energy (of The Peel Group) have clubbed together and created a new company, Ayrshire Power, that has submitted a scoping report to North Ayrshire council. It can be downloaded here.

Why a new company has been created remains unclear, although the obvious explanation is that it is a cheap shot at making it look like a ‘local’ development, and not one by a foreign energy company that would be breaking the law were it to build this power station in its home country (see Dong Energy’s Dirty Deals). An internet search yields no information about ‘Ayrshire Power’, except for the title on the project scoping report. Where are its offices? Who are its executives? How can it be held to account for the plans it proposes? Its registered company address is the following: The Old Exchange, 12 Compton Road, Wimbledon, London, SW19 7QD.

hunterston-article-imagesWhat is Ayrshire Energy Limited doing in Wimbledon? But wait, “Ayrshire Power Ltd is the general partner of The Ayrshire Power Limited Partnership, and is a company owned 50:50 by Peel Energy Ltd and DONG Energy Power Holdings UK Ltd.” So what on Earth is The Ayrshire Power Limited Partnership? Not even an address could be found for this elusive ‘partnership’.

It looks like Peel Energy will handle the biomass aspect of the power station, accounting for 14% of energy generation, as that’s what they’re into. This one will be a “multi-fuelled power generator”, don’t you know.

The Peel Group, Peel Energy’s parent company, is mostly involved in property and transport and appears to have recently branched out into ‘renewable’ energy. But don’t let the pictures of wind turbines fool you – it owns and runs 5 airports, owns Clydeport (who own and run Hunterston coal port) and other ports and port operators, the Trafford shopping centre in Manchester and a large advertising division. Surprise surprise, The Peel Group is also a major investor in UK Coal. Its assets are valued at over £6 billion. In essence, its a massive company with its fingers in many pies.

hunterston-article-images-2Probably most significant of the above is the fact that Peel Energy and Clydeport are subsidiaries of the same company. In other words, Peel are building a coal-fired power station next to the UK’s largest coal port, which it owns, and using DONG Energy to run it. The plot thickens, or at least becomes more opaque. In fact, this whole project is about as transparent as a coal seam.

North Ayrshire council gets its priorities right…

In response to the scoping report, North Ayrshire council have got right into the heart of the issues. They’ve requested Ayrshire Power provide a traffic assessment evaluating the impact of increased rail freight activity on existing rail passenger services, a noise and vibration assessment to consider the impact on communities affected by rail and road traffic, and an evaluation of noise levels from existing Clydeport facilities. The 500 ft chimney and height of the buildings are not thought to be an issue.

Other impacts due to be examined include air quality and emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide and how this will affect residential properties in Fairlie, and an assessment of visible plumes from the chimneys. At least that much will be looked into.

Quite spectacularly, however, the council have missed the real issues. Yes, the impacts of new (and old) coal projects on local communities are very important and environmental justice must be a priority given that these projects inevitably impact on already deprived communities.

But what about the fact that this power station is being billed as a “clean coal power station”? What about the fact that coal-fired power generation is literally killing the planet? The report states that Carbon Capture Storage will be installed once “technically and commercially viable” – what this basically means is that if 20 years down the line CCS has been developed, they’ll install it, but until then it will be just another polluting coal-fired power station.

hunterston-article-images-3Most hilariously though has to be the new acronym coined in this scoping report – CCR (Carbon Capture Ready). What better way to make a glorified car park next to a power station (or an empty space, if you will) sound like new, state-of-the-art technology? An acronym will do the trick.

And the conclusion…

There is NOTHING clean about this project. Peel Group/Peel Energy/Dong Energy/Ayrshire Energy/The Ayrshire Power Limited Partnership whoever you are, you won’t get away with greenwashing your way through building this power station.

The joke that governments and energy companies are taking climate change seriously, and that clean coal projects such as… well, open cast mines, polluting power stations… is the solution to meeting our energy needs has surely gone too far.

References:

http://www.largsandmillportnews.com/articles/1/35491/

EIA Scoping Report for the Proposed Ayrshire Multi-fuelled Power Station


2 Responses to “New Hunterston Coal-Fired Power Station – as transparent as a coal seam”

  1. 1 fairy

    ‘One in four against coal port plan’
    Artivle from Largs & Millport Weekly News:
    http://www.largsandmillportnews.com/articles/1/38453

  1. 1 Coal Action Edinburgh

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