This is entry number 137, first published on 3 June 2010, of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog.
Today's entry reports on two developments on new nuclear and coal-fired power in the UK respectively.
This morning, the new Minister for Energy and Climate Change in the House of Lords, Lord Marland, promised a 'coalition statement' on nuclear power by the end of this month, in response to a question from the former Minister, Lord Hunt (Hansard report here). This will be awaited by the nuclear industry with interest, as the general coalition agreement only gives basic details. It says that the normal planning process for major projects must be used (is that the Planning Act regime or the previous one?), and that there is to be no public subsidy. Lord Marland repeated that line. The agreement goes on to say that the Conservatives will support new nuclear power stations, the Liberal Democrat Secretary of State, Chris Huhne, may speak against them, and the Liberal Democrat MPs may abstain on any vote.
In a separate development, the Daily Telegraph reports that Ayrshire Power, a joint venture between Peel Energy Ltd and DONG Energy (Danish Oil and Natural Gas), has submitted an application to the Scottish Government for a mixed biomass and coal-fired power station at Hunterston in Ayrshire. This will not be an application under the Planning Act 2008, since the new regime does not extend to Scotland except for non-gas transporter pipelines, and it will therefore use the existing regime under the Electricity Act 1989. This means that there will only be a public inquiry if the local authority (North Ayrshire Council) objects to the application.
The plant is to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and its promoters intend that this will eventually capture 90 percent of CO2 emissions. The power station will be 1852MW, but neither the article nor Ayrshire Power's website say what the split between biomass and coal will be. The proposed power station is not one of the four CCS demonstration projects that the Department for Energy and Climate Change has been looking for.
Coal and nuclear are somewhat linked, since the SNP-led Scottish Government has said it opposes new nuclear power stations north of the border, and so it may have to rely on coal-fired power stations with CCS such as this one to meet Scotland's energy needs during the predicted energy gap from 2017 (i.e. between existing power stations shutting down and renewables coming on-stream in sufficient quantities).
There has not been a new coal-fired power station in the UK since the 1970s - there are around 20 operational stations currently in operation. E.On suspended its 2006 application for a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent in November 2009.
The coalition statement on nuclear power will be reported on this blog once it is issued, as will any significant developments on coal-fired power stations and CCS.