Plans to build the Britain’s first coal-fired power station in over 30 years moved a step closer to becoming a reality yesterday when a local council approved the controversial scheme.
Conservative controlled Medway Council voted in favour of E.on UK’s proposal to replace the existing power station at Kingsnorth, near Rochester, with a cleaner coal station.
an artist's impression of the new Kingsnorth units shown alongside the existing station
Robin Cooper, the council’s director of regeneration and development, said: “This is one of the largest planning applications Medway Council has ever dealt with. Councillors visited the site and carefully took into consideration all the issues before coming to a decision. It is now up to Central Government to decide whether to give consent for this power station.” The council is believed to have called for a public enquiry, given the significance for national policy of the proposed new coal plant.
According to E.on, the new coal facility could be up and running by 2012 and will generate enough electricity to power around 1.5m homes. The German owned energy supplier also claim that their plan to invest £1bn building two new cleaner coal power stations at the site will lead to a 20% improvement in energy efficiency compared to the existing plant.
However, green groups have been quick to criticise the development. "What we have here quite simply is a proposal to generate electricity by the single most climate-wrecking method in usage anywhere in the world today," warned Greenpeace's Ben Stewart on BBC Radio today.
Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Robin Webster told The Guardian, "If built, Kingsnorth power station will undermine the government's commitment to meet European targets for producing 20% of energy from renewables by 2020… If it is serious about tackling climate change the Government must throw out this proposal and promote investment in clean and green alternatives."
Prior to last night’s vote, Medway Council had received nearly 9,000 objections to the scheme.
Last October, Greenpeace staged a high profile protest at the existing plant by scaling a 200m-high smokestack and chaining themselves to the station's conveyor belt to prevent it burning coal.
The plans will now be reviewed by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Watch this space for further developments.
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published: 14:50 - 3 January 2007