Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 14:26 UK

Councillors vote to oppose power station plans

Cockenzie power station
Scottish Power want a new facility to be in place at Cockenzie by 2015

Councillors in East Lothian have voted to oppose controversial plans to upgrade Cockenzie power station in principle.

The council's environment director Pete Collins had recommended that councillors should approve the plans.

Scottish Power wants to convert Cockenzie from a coal to a gas fired power station.

A motion to oppose the plans was passed by 12 votes to six at Tuesday evening's meeting in Port Seton.

A public inquiry will now be held before Scottish ministers make the final decision on whether the plans get the go-ahead.

Scottish Power would like to remain an active part of the community at Cockenzie for some time to come
Scottish Power spokesman

Despite urging councillors to approve the plans, Mr Collins had raised concerns about the potential environmental impact of the demolition and construction phases.

Scottish Power want a new facility to be in place by 2015 but its proposals have split the local community.

The community council in Prestonpans has consistently supported a project which many believe would safeguard jobs and boost local businesses.

In adjoining Port Seton, however, locals have voiced their opposition, citing concerns about the potential impact on health and the environment.

Mr Collins' paper said: "There is a lack of clear evidence in the environmental statement as to the nature, scale and cumulative impact of the potential environmental effects of the proposed development during its demolition and construction phases."

It also said there had been "inadequate consideration" about the effects of the development on motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

'Real need'

However, the paper said the objections would be withdrawn if a number of requirements were met.

Councillors voted on the paper's recommendations at the meeting in Port Seton's community centre, which also heard submissions from both community councils.

A Scottish Power spokesman said: "In Scotland there is a real need for new power generation to replace ageing stations like the coal-fired one at Cockenzie that are due to close over the next decade.

"But we need new power generation that is more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

"The Scottish government recognises this and its National Planning Framework has confirmed Cockenzie's importance as a site for continued electricity generation."

He said the company was proposing a new combined cycle gas turbine plant at Cockenzie.

'Shut down'

"This technology is significantly more efficient than a coal station, CO2 emissions would be reduced by over 50%, and there would be further major reductions in emissions across the board," he added.

"Scottish Power would like to remain an active part of the community at Cockenzie for some time to come and it is our intention that the new power station will continue to be able to offer highly skilled jobs within a modern, clean and efficient environment."

However, Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Any continued power generation at Cockenzie must contribute to Scotland's sustainable energy future.

"We could see the potential for either a high-efficiency combined heat and power plant, or a plant which demonstrates commercial scale carbon-capture technology from the outset.

"Although we recognise that gas is less carbon intensive than coal, we still think that if steps towards a low carbon future are not taken the site at Cockenzie should be shut down."

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