Stop Kingsnorth: no to new coal power

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31 March 2008

NEWS FLASH: E.ON feeling the pressure, and making fudge

Even E.ON is getting wobbly about the government’s new coal power plans! The ardent pusher of coal-power has just asked the government to “postpone its decision on the Kingsnorth planning application until completion of its proposed consultation into what will be required to make a coal-fired power station carbon capture and storage-ready” and has announced that it is entering Kingsnorth in the government’s competition to win money to build a carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration site.

This is little more than fudge-making on the part of EON, they still want their unabated coal-fired power station. Nonetheless, it is great news for the campaign, especially alongside the rumours of a cabinet split on the issue of coal power. It leaves the government’s department for business, enterprise and regulatory reform (BERR) isolated in its desire to push forward the plans for new coal-fired power stations. With any luck the government will see sense too and freeze their crazy planet-cooking plans along with their consideration of the Kingsnorth application. We now look to Gordon Brown to reign in the rogue element in all this, Minister John Hutton, and announce a full scale review of UK coal policy.

Why have E.ON made this move? Some might say that this is a clear signal that E.ON recognised its reputation is being jepordised by its connection to these ludicrous new coal power plans. Having employed a very swanky PR company, Edleman, it seems the first thing the spin doctors have pointed out to E.ON is that what with WDM, a huge coalition of other campaign groups and the Climate Camp all targeting Kingsnorth power station, E.ON was set for a huge heap of trouble if it tries to build a new coal-fired power plant without carbon capture.

So what does this mean for the new coal power plans. Well, its not time for the cry of victory for campaigners yet. Firstly, E.ON are only asking that their application be postponed until after the ‘ccs-readinesss’ consultation. On receiving this result of this consultation they could still push ahead with their climate wrecking plans. However, as long as Kingsnorth is an entrant in the carbon capture competition, E.ON probably won't go ahead with any changes to Kingsnorth. The winner of this competition is to be announced in summer 2009.

What is most important to recognise however, is that this does not rule out the government’s pushing ahead with permitting new coal power stations without carbon capture and storage technology. And although its most unlikely that a company will go ahead until the carbon capture readiness consultation is over, it is highly likely some will want to get building once it is. But once the consultation goes ahead and the competition is over, E.ON will still want a power station at Kingsnorth.

The only proper solution to truly stop the building of new coal power plants, is for the government to launch a full review of its coal policy, with particular attention for what it means for climate change, which should lead to new coal power plants being ruled out for good.

24 March 2008

Cabinet split on Kingsnorth: Hutton v Benn

It seems that the many thousands of people who are opposed to the new generation of coal power stations, and who are shocked at John Hutton's veiled support for dirty coal are not alone. Support for Kingsnorth is waning within the government as well:

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is being urged to oppose the scheme by officials unless there are guarantees it would be able to exploit new "carbon capture and storage" (CCS) technology, according to a report in the Independent today.

As we've already seen (thanks to Greenpeace), CCS has been dumped by Hutton. Following a series of emails between power company E.ON and the government, CCS was dropped as a requirement - Hutton's department reversed the government's climate and energy policy in six minutes and four words.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace, said:

"Gordon Brown needs to get a grip on his cabinet. What we're seeing is ministers jostling for position. If Brown gives the go-ahead for a new fleet of coal-fired power stations, with CCS technology still unproven, it's hard to see how the UK will meet its legal requirement to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050."
In the meantime, for those who are not in the cabinet, you can put pressure on Hutton to call a public inquiry into the coal power scheme here.

19 March 2008

George Monbiot: Carbon capture is turning out to be just another great green scam

From the Guardian website:

Coal is so clean and fresh that the prime minister brushes his teeth with it, Downing Street said last night. Mr Brown said advances in coal technology meant it was now one of the cleanest substances on Earth, and an unrivalled remover of stains and scaling." So says the satirical website the Daily Mash. The real claims are scarcely battier.

Ministers are about to decide whether to approve a new coal-burning power station at Kingsnorth in Kent. This would be the first such plant to be built in Britain since the monster at Drax was finished in 1986. As well as coal, it will burn up the government's targets, policies and promises on climate change.

John Hutton, the secretary of state in charge of energy, has started justifying the decision he says he hasn't made. "For critics," he argued last week, "there's a belief that coal-fired power stations undermine the UK's leadership position on climate change. In fact, the opposite is true." Quite so: if we don't burn this stuff the Chinese might get their hands on it. Or could he be a true believer? Does he really think there's such a thing as clean coal?

Read the full article on the Guardian website.

18 March 2008

Local campaign gathers momentum

Two good developments this week from the local perspective: firstly, Bob Marshall-Andrews' complaint at not being granted an interview with the Minister was given prominent coverage in Friday's Medway Messenger, which also printed a letter in support of the Climate Camp.

Secondly, Medway WDM group has obtained permission to run a stall in Rochester High Street on Sat 19 April, 11am-2pm, to hand out WDM "Climate Change Kills" leaflets and to invite signatures on a petition calling for a public inquiry.

Thanks for all the support!

Fossil Fools Day

1st April is set to pack a punch this year. Across the world April Fool’s Day is being marked by climate change activists as Fossil Fool’s Day, a day of action against the climate wrecking fossil fuel industry. Organised by the Rising Tide network, which spans the UK, US and Australia, there’s set to be stunts, protests and direct actions happening at the workplace of climate criminals near you.

To find out more visit

Protest circus for a coal Fossil Fool (BERR, 1 Victoria Street, 8 am on 1 April 2008)

The World Development Movement is organising a gathering to protest outside the Department for Business and Regulatory Reform (or BERR) to laugh at the minister for business, John Hutton. John Hutton is currently set to make a right fool of the government’s climate policy if he signs off on EON’s new Kingsnorth power station.

Everyone’s welcome to join in the collective hilarity and to demand Hutton takes the Kingsnorth decision very seriously. There will be a real circus feel, with jugglers, clowns and acrobats, so don’t hesitate to bring juggling balls or wear your squeaky nose or silly hat.

See the page on Facebook or just turn up.

Protest starts at 8am and will be over in time for you to be at work. Contact Rachel on 0207 8204900 for more information.

Old King Coal is a dirty old soul

The RSPB have now joined the clamour against the new generation of dirty coal power stations.

Responding to John Hutton's speech in which he suggested that the government might give the go ahead to Kingsnorth without a public enquiry, Ruth Davis, Head of Climate Change Policy at the RSPB, said:

“Plans to store carbon dioxide from plants like Kingsnorth are one thing but having the technology to do so is quite another, and still a long way off.

“What is the point of claiming to lead action to tackle climate change, introducing the world’s first climate change legislation, then sanctioning much greater use of the dirtiest energy source there is?

“Even the most efficient coal-fired generation releases twice the carbon dioxide of gas. Failure to delay coal-fired development until carbon storage technology is available is irresponsible and unnecessary. We should be investing far more in energy efficiency and renewables instead.

“Climate change is posing huge threats to people and wildlife. We must face up to this and start to cut our emissions rapidly, especially emissions from the power generation sector.”
The RSPB is one of the largest conservation organisations in the UK, with over a million members.
Read more on the RSPB website.

14 March 2008

Kingsnorth coal campaigners plead 'not guilty'

Five Greenpeace volunteers faced their first court hearing today over the shutting down of one of Britain's dirtiest power stations, at Kingsnorth in Kent, last October. They pleaded 'not guilty' at Maidstone Crown Court to charges of criminal damage and trespass. The charges relate to climbing a 200m smokestack on the site and painting a message to the prime minister - "GORDON BIN IT" in huge letters down the side. They took action because the government is considering considering proposals for a new generation of coal-fired plants.

The five are Huw Williams, Emily Hall, Ben Stewart, Kevin Drake and Tim Hewke. They climbed 1,000 steps to the top of the smokestack as part of a wider move to shut down Kingsnorth. One of the dirtiest coal plants in the country, the facility emits an estimated 20,000 tonnes of CO2 a day. They were also protesting against plans to build Britain's first new coal power station for a generation at the site. A new plant would pump out millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases every year and open the door to at least seven other new coal fired power stations across the country.

Gordon Brown has been repeatedly asked to veto the plans but has so far refused. His government even convened a coal forum to "bring forward ways of strengthening the industry, and work to ensure the UK has the right framework to secure the long term future of coal-fired generation".

Mr Brown's decision on new coal will tell us how serious he is about tackling runaway climate change. Approving Kingsnorth would fly in the face of advice from the UN's top climate scientists, who warn that global emissions must peak and then fall dramatically within the next 100 months to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. Nobel Peace prize winner Al Gore said in August last year: "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power stations."

Last October there were, at Kingsnorth at least. And now they are preparing to stand trial for it. The trial date has been set for September.

Take Action

Please help to keep up the pressure against new coal plants by writing to Business Secretary John Hutton and telling him that we want him to put action on climate change before profits for business, and a public inquiry into Kingsnorth.

13 March 2008

What planet is John Hutton living on?

Yesterday at a speech at the Adam Smith Institute, John Hutton made it pretty clear that the government was going to support resurrecting coal-fired power stations, starting with Kingsnorth in Kent. While he was there he also had a pop at the green campaigners who he accused of ‘gesture politics’. We had a quick discussion in the office about what this actually means, and decided that we weren’t entirely sure but what is clear is that we and the thousands of people who have emailed him are striking a nerve – great news!

Campaigning organisations got together and expressed their outrage at Hutton’s hint of going ahead with Kingsnorth without a public inquiry.

We said: "Hutton has the audacity to accuse green groups of gesture politics but it seems that today he is hinting that he will give a quick consent for Kingsnorth. This is undemocratic and dangerous. It appears that he has been blinded by the empty promises of big business and unproven technology. Hutton’s vision of climate leadership is to build polluting power stations and cross his fingers and hope for the best that unproven carbon capture technology works. This is not politics; this is a game of smoke and mirrors.

Christian Aid said that granting permission for Kingsnorth would be a "shameful climbdown" from the leading role the UK has taken in demanding worldwide cuts in carbon emissions, and made a "mockery" of the Climate Change Bill at present going through Parliament.

Greenpeace, said: "When it comes to climate change, Gordon Brown's Government is behaving like Jekyll and Hyde.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: "At a time when the Government should be working to reduce the UK's emissions, ministers seem determined to allow a huge new polluting power station. What planet is John Hutton living on?

Our WDM campaigner managed to sneak in to hear the speech and asked Hutton whether he would announce a public inquiry. Unsurprisingly he dodged the question, but did mention that the one thing he definitely was not going to do is send the UK back to the stone age, which is ironic given that he is a lover of old fashioned coal and clearly hasn’t read the reports which say that if governments don’t take action now, dangerous climate change will throw many countries back to the stone age.

6 March 2008

Carbon footyprint: E.ON's carbon greenwash

If you’re a football fan, you might have noticed that E.ON - the corporation behind the plans to build the new coal power station in Kingsnorth - has been spending a lot of time and cash advertising their 'Carbon Footyprint' campaign. The message is a simple one: football fans can reduce the carbon impact of the FA cup, sponsored by E.ON,

"By pledging ways to save energy, you'll help reduce the carbon footyprint of The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON."
Sounds like a good idea in principle, but there is something really wrong with this type of campaign because E.ON are shifting the blame of climate change onto football fans, rather than looking at reducing their own massive carbon footyprint. And E.ON is responsible for proposing a coal-fired power station which will destroy all the efforts made by football fans and millions of individuals who are all doing their bit to reduce their climate impact.

Individual action can help to reduce climate change, but corporations and governments must keep to their part of the deal and follow up their green rhetoric with positive action. You can find out more about individual v government action on the World Development Movement's website.

You can find out how E.ON's carbon footyprint compares with the FA cup by visiting our spoof site:

Ironically E.ON's banner advertising has even been appearing next to news stories about the new Kingsnorth power station. Could it be a mistake by their advertisers, or perhaps they think some greenwash ads will make building the most polluting form of power station possible more palatable?

Either way, if E.ON think they can offset the carbon disaster that is Kingsnorth with a bit of desperate greenwash, they’re mistaken. Maybe it’s time they sacked their PR agency, or even better cleaned up their act.

4 March 2008

Welcome to Medway!

Well it seems as if Kingsnorth is going to hit the national headlines again! First Greenpeace painted the chimney: now Climate Camp are paying a visit. This is fantastic news and will be as influential, I hope, in opposing Eon's proposals as RSPB's influence was in stopping the Hoo peninsula airport proposals.

We are gearing up as a group to inform local people about Kingsnorth and to help co-ordinate Medway's opposition. The Climate Camp can only help, and we look forward to welcoming them to our lovely area!

Richard Martin, WDM Medway campaigner

3 March 2008

Camp for Climate Action to target Kingsnorth power station.

Today it was announced that E.ON's Kingsnorth power station in Kent will be the site of this summer’s Camp for Climate Action, running from 4 th to 11th of August 2008.

Coming on the back of last week's actions against the proposed third runway at Heathrow, with activists occupying the tailfin of a jet and the roof of the houses of parliament, climate activists promise that 2008 will be “the year of direct action on climate change”.

The protest will begin with a one-day event at Heathrow, the site of the previous year's camp, before marching across London to Kingsnorth. This is one of eight climate camps targeting coal across the world this summer.

Climate change activists will converge on Kingsnorth power station where owners EON plan to build the UK’s first coal fired power station in 30 years. Saturday 9th August has been named a 'day of mass protest and direct action' against Kingsnorth to highlight its impact on climate change.

Moving from Heathrow to Kingsnorth highlights government and corporate collusion to expand the fossil fuel economy when the scientific consensus demands the opposite. The camp will bring together thousands of activists for several days of workshops and direct action. The camp will also challenge businesses set to profit from false solutions to climate change such as agrofuels. A day of action targeting the agrofuel industry will be an integral part of the week long camp.

Natasha Edleman said: “Building a new coal-fired power station in the middle of a climate crisis is madness. The science shows that we only have a few years to avert catastrophic climate change. If we let this happen then there are seven more power stations coming. This must be stopped.”

Charlie Owens said: “Biofuels have been proposed as a solution to climate change. But new studies confirm that they are just as dangerous as fossil fuels. And they create the illusion we can carry on as usual. In the end we can only stop climate change if we challenge the growth economy and start putting people and planet first.”

Notes for editors

  1. Like Heathrow, Kingsnorth is awaiting the approval of the government. The decision on whether to hold a public inquiry into the power station will be taken by John Hutton, at BERR, in the next six weeks. As with Heathrow, there are accusations of collusion between EON and the government. For more information see:
  2. Kingsnorth will produce twice as many climate-harming emissions as a third runway at Heathrow. According to the World Development Movement, flights from a third runway at Heathrow will produce as much greenhouse gas as the whole of Kenya.
  3. If Kingsnorth is built it is likely to open the way to new build coal. Up to seven other similar projects are planned. Growth in coal-power will undermine investment in renewable energy.
  4. Last year's camp was on land which is intended for the building of a third runway at Heathrow. The eight-day camp brought together 2000 people on land next to the village of Sipson and shut down BAA’s headquarters for 24 hours. The camp also organised up to 20 smaller actions on other aviation and climate change related targets. There were 70 arrests over the week.
  5. E.ON has tried to greenwash their plans to build a new plant at Kingsnorth by claiming that it might one day be upgraded to use carbon capture technology. Even by the most optimistic standards, such technology will not be ready until 2020.
  6. In the weeks before last year's camp, BAA applied for an injunction to stop the camp taking place. The injunction covered two million members of environmental groups from the RSPB to Greenpeace. The injunction was successfully defeated in the courts.
  7. In addition to the camp, days of action on climate change are planned for the 1st April (Fossil Fools Day), 1st May (Mayday), 3rd June (highlighting issues to do with food and climate change)
  8. “Agrofuels” are liquid fuels produced from agricultural crops. These are also referred to as “Biofuels”.
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