Judicial review begins over Hunterston coal power plan

Image caption,
Plans are in the pipeline to build a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston

A judicial review into plans to build a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston in Ayrshire begins at the Court of Session in Edinburgh later.

Ayrshire Power wants to build a plant with experimental carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at the site.

The developers said the facility could provide low carbon energy for three million homes for decades.

But campaign groups say thousands oppose the scheme, which they claim will harm wildlife and the environment.

The judicial review is challenging the Scottish government's decision to include the planned facility as a National Development in the National Planning Framework.

The proposals, by Ayrshire Power, which is owned by Peel Energy Ltd, are for a site between the existing Clydeport coal handling facility at the Hunterston Terminal, and the Hunterston B nuclear power plant.

'Significant' job creation

By using CCS, damaging carbon emissions would be captured, turned into liquid and stored underground on site, if that technology can be proven.

The energy company also claimed the new power station would generate a "significant" number of jobs in the area, with up to 1,600 people being employed during construction and another 160 in permanent jobs when the power station is running.

Opposition to the scheme, however, has seen several organisations form a coalition in an attempt to have it halted.

Marco McGinty, a birdwatcher who lives close to the proposed site, is bringing the challenge, with the backing of a broad coalition of non-governmental organisations, charities and faith groups.

These include RSPB Scotland, Planning Democracy, WWF Scotland, The Scottish Wildlife Trust, FoE Scotland, The Church of Scotland, Christian Aid, Oxfam and the World Development Movement Scotland.

He said: "Local people have been denied a voice and I have been left with no option but to take this course of action to put a stop to this inappropriate development, to protect a valuable part of our local environment and to ensure that, in the future, communities will be consulted properly with other major developments."

Aedán Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland, said: "We are supporting Marco because if this development retains its National Development status it will be far more difficult for the application to be refused at a later date."

Ayrshire Power has previously said these groups were opposing technology which could be used to protect the environment.

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