No new coal for Scotland - campaign success
Ayrshire Power has just announced that it is shelving its plans for a new coal-fired power station at Hunterton in Ayrshire. This is great news – and reflects the huge amount of opposition that there’s been to the power plant ever since the proposal first came to light three years ago.
There's been a really strong local campaign for the last three years, as well as opposition from a coalition of environment and development NGOs (including the World Development Movement), and a legal case by Planning Democracy. More than 22,000 objections were made to the planning application – making it apparently the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history and showing the strength of public feeling against it.
WDM has long talked about climate debt and the importance of rich countries, like ours, who are most responsible for climate change cutting our greenhouse gas emissions. We calculated (1) that, had Hunterston gone ahead and operated from 2015 to 2050, even with 15-25 percent carbon capture and storage, the coal power station could have been responsible for:
- 100,000 people losing their dry season water supply due to glaciers melting
- 30,000 to 60,000 more people suffering from drought in Africa
- 20,000 people being forced out of their homes and becoming climate refugees
- 50,000 people being at risk of hunger due to drought and lower crop yields
- 100 to 300 people dying every year due to malnutrition
- Around 30,000 more people suffering every year due to coastal flooding
- Up-to 40,000 more people exposed to malaria across the world.
So the success of the efforts of all the campaigners to stop Hunterston will have a global impact as well as a local one.
But to make the decision to shelve Hunterston stick, the Scottish Government must now make sure that coal generating plants are taken out of its National Planning Framework. There’s no place for coal in a low carbon Scotland.
This week also coincidentally marks the third anniversary of Scotland’s climate change act, with its targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Ambitious targets – but based on what’s needed to reduce the chances of runaway climate change, rather than just on what was considered politically possible. And all the more achievable without a coal-fired power plant at Hunterston!
(1) Based on its global contribution to warming of 3-4°C, and climate change impacts predicted by the IPCC and Stern Review.
Liz Murray is head of campaigns and networks at WDM’s Scottish office.