Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

1bn power station 'green light'

Pembroke power station
Artist impression of the Pembroke power station

The UK government has given the go-ahead for a 1bn gas-fired power station creating 2,000 building jobs.

The 2,000 MW plant will be built on the site of the old Pembroke power station and near the new LNG plants at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

RWE npower's station would generate enough power for 3m homes.

The decision was welcomed by some but Friends of the Earth Cymru (FoE) had objected, claiming the heat loss from the station would be too wasteful.

The final decision rested with the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Andrew Duff, chief executive of RWE npower said: "The government's consent for Pembroke power station represents a vital step to ensuring the delivery of secure, clean energy supplies while providing a significant boost to the economy."

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said "We very much welcome the opportunities that this decision will provide for employment of those with the right skills from Pembrokeshire and other parts of Wales.

"When it is operational it will diversify Wales' sources of electricity."

Friends of the Earth Cymru is worried that water temperatures will affect habitats.

Nick Ainger, MP for Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South, has already met RWE npower managers in Parliament to lobby for local firms to be considered for contracts.

Mr Ainger added: "This confirms there is a bright future for the energy industry in west Wales, not only on the five major sites but also for the many local companies that will benefit in maintenance and support contracts."

Angela Burns, AM for the constituency, said: "This development will create hundreds of much-needed jobs and is a vital injection of investment in the region's infrastructure and economy."

The energy firm signed a deal with a contractor in August 2007 to build the plant on the site of the old station, which shut down 1996.

It would take three years to build and eventually employ 100 workers.

The station would be the largest since the Drax station was completed in North Yorkshire in 1986, but the location faced competition from Staythorpe in Nottinghamshire.

But FoE Cymru director Gordon James raised concerns that waste heat pumped into the haven could damage the eco-system and affect fish, otter and seal habitats.

He said: "While the government is urging the public to save energy by switching off stand-by, turning lights off and so on, it is giving the go-ahead to a new power station that will waste over half the energy content of the gas, emit almost six million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and threaten an important marine ecosystem

"We have calculated that the heat wasted from the new power station would be equivalent to 40% of Wales' electricity demand.

"The government is giving this power station the green light knowing that a much more efficient technology - combined heat and power (CHP) - is available that would generate electricity, use waste heat in neighbouring industrial activities, emit less carbon dioxide and create jobs."

The Energy Secretary explored the option of combined heat and power but "considered the distances to be covered to provide heat to those developments would effectively mean that any steam would condensate by the time it reached there."

It was also judged that water abstraction for the station's cooling water system would have a minor impact on marine conservation, the responsibility of Environment Agency Wales.

Although the Countryside Council for Wales still has some concerns, including reduced prey for seals and otters.

The company is setting up a local liaison committee and will hold a series of exhibitions in Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and Milford Haven about the construction work.

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