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.

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