Page last updated at 20:47 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

MSPs oppose new Hunterston plans

The Scottish government wants to build a new plant at Hunterston

MSPs have backed calls for the Scottish Parliament to reject plans for a coal-fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire.

Labour and the Lib Dems backed a Green motion against Peel Energy's proposed development, announced on Monday.

If the plan succeeds the plant would be the first in the UK to use carbon capture and storage technology. However the parties said it remained unproven.

Ministers considering the application can ignore the vote in Parliament.

It came during a debate on climate change.

The developers have said the plant would allow the power station to provide low carbon energy to three million homes for decades.

CCS technology removes carbon dioxide produced by the station. This would then be turned into liquid using chemicals and stored underground.

'Unabated emissions'

However, the Green Party's Scottish leader, Patrick Harvie MSP, said: "This plant has been dogged by controversy from the start, and ministers now face a possible judicial review if they try and force it through.

"Let's not waste everyone's time - I invite Peel Energy to accept the will of Parliament and withdraw their application.

"This project is going nowhere, and if they proceed they will be wasting taxpayers' time and money as well as their own. The game is up for new coal plants in Scotland."

Labour's energy spokesperson, Lewis Macdonald, said: "Carbon capture and storage (CCS) offer huge potential for reducing harmful emissions in future, but the technology has still to be proven at scale.

"Labour's Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband last week gave the go-ahead to take forward to the next stage the project to demonstrate that CCS can work on a large scale, both technically and commercially, at Longannet.

"Approving a new coal-fired power station before CCS is shown to work at scale could mean millions of tonnes of unabated new carbon emissions from Hunterston."

Environmentalists are also campaigning against the plans, claiming it sends the wrong message about Scotland's energy future.

WWF Scotland's director, Dr Richard Dixon, said: "The company should withdraw its plans and allow Scotland to concentrate instead on cleaning up its existing coal-fired power stations and embracing clean renewable energy."

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