Monday, 9 November 2009

Government slipping on carbon capture

Energy Secretary Ed Milliband refused to back the critical 2014 carbon capture pilot deadline today in the House of Commons. This could have signficant consequences for Longannet Power Station and the battle with climate change.

To explain, 2014 is the date which the government set for the establishment of the carbon capture demonstration project. That date was set so that the technology could be rolled out across all coal fired power stations by 2020 which is a crucial date for meeting the government's objectives on cutting carbon emissions and for the battle against climate change.

So if the pilots are not set up by 2014 we won't meet the 2020 deadline - it's that tight according to experts. That's why today's refusal to back the 2014 deadline is so concerning. It wasn't as if Ed Milliband did not understand what he was being asked as he was asked twice - once by the Tory front bench and once by me.

Why did he refuse to back the date, I hear you say. Well it's because E.on, who owns Kingsnorth in Kent, have said they don't plan to build their new coal fired power station there until 2016 - well after the carbon capture deadline. The Government have been bizarrely wedded to Kingsnorth for some time and they seem determined to push it through at any cost, even if it means missing their climate change targets.

As the MP for Longannet Power Station, Kingsnorth's only rival in the competition, you'd expect me to back Longannet but it's more than pork barrel politics that interests me here. My fear is that the Government may allow Kingsnorth to derail the whole project and set back the UK's efforts on climate change.

I’m also worried that any further delays to the competition, which has already been delayed several times, could delay investment at Longannet. Carbon capture and storage has huge potential locally, particularly as the Forth Valley is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions in the UK, with Grangemouth, Mossmorran, Cockenzie, and in particular Longannet.

I've written to the Energy Secretary to appeal to him to stick to the deadlines his Government set itself.

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