Environmentalists welcome Ayrshire Power’s withdrawal of plans for coal-fired station at Hunterston due to financial concerns
Controversial plans to build a major coal-fired power station in Ayrshire using unproven “clean coal” technology have been abandoned, to the delight of environmental campaigners.
The developers, Ayrshire Power, blamed their unexpected decision to withdraw plans for a new 1852MW carbon-capture power station at Hunterston on the recession and anxieties about winning funding from the government and European commission.
Their announcement, just days after the dates for a public inquiry into the project were agreed by a Scottish planning inspector, is another blow to the UK and Scottish government’s attempts to promote carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a centrepiece of their efforts to combat climate change.
Several major pilot projects, including a £1bn scheme to retrofit CCS at Longannet power station in Fife, have been cancelled in the last few years because of doubts over their financial and technical viability. Some are still under consideration for EU and government funding, including one recent proposal to build a CCS project at Peterhead by the energy firms SSE and Shell.
In 2009, the Danish power giant Dong Energy announced it was pulling out of the £3bn Hunterston proposal, leaving its main backer, the Manchester-based property firm Peel Holdings, to run the scheme without a power company as a partner in the consortium.
The Ayrshire Power project, which had yet to get approval, had the reputation of being the most controversial proposal in Scottish planning history. Despite initially backing the proposal, Alex Salmond, the first minister, and his devolved government distanced themselves from the scheme.