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15 March 2010
Image: Andy Hay
We are extremely worried about the proposed coal-fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire and the permanent damage it would cause to a fragile habitat, as well as the wider implications of increasing Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions.
After years of development, most of the areas like Southannan Sands, where this development is proposed, have been lost from the Clyde forever, and the few that remain are therefore a high priority for conservation.
Inter-tidal habitats like this are vital for wading birds, such as redshank, and curlew, that have specifically evolved to feed on invertebrates living within the different layers. They also act rather like service stations on a motorway for a huge range of ducks, which use them to top up on vital energy during their long migrations. In fact, Southannan Sands is one of the best areas for wildlife in the whole of the Clyde Estuary, and as such has been designated part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The proposed development by Peel Ports consists of a 16,00MW coal-fired power station on 236 acres (95ha) at the Hunterston site, which would involve infilling large areas of valuable habitat. This equates to an area roughly the size of 148 football pitches. The buildings themselves, according to the developer, would be significant in size with the highest building approximately 115m tall and the air emission stack approximately 152m – almost 500ft.
In October 2009, DONG Energy, a partner in the original proposal, announced that they were pulling out as an investor in the project. However, Peel Ports have stated that they remain committed to the project.
Recent research has proven that Scotland's energy needs can be met without building new coal-fired power stations (see the Power of Scotland Renewed document on the right). We must instead invest in clean, green energy sources if we are to meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The Scottish Government has set a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 42% by 2020. This target means Scotland is leading the world in showing that we are prepared to take action on climate change. Allowing Hunterston power station to be built as proposed would be a worrying step backwards in our efforts.
The original proposal from the developers was to build a new, predominantly coal-fired, power station that would be 'carbon capture ready'. This simply means that sufficient space would be left on site to retrofit this very new and commercially unproven technology if it becomes available.
In essence, this proposal is for a power station that would be built on a valuable wildlife habitat and would increase greenhouse gas emissions. Should the proposed development proceed to the full application stage, we believe that RSPB Scotland would object to the proposal.
The planning application for this new power station has been submitted to the Scottish Government. Please take part in our quick and easy online action and submit your objection to the proposals.