Friday, 4 January 2008

KINGSNORTH FOLLY - CAROLINE LUCAS COMMENTS

SOUTH EAST GREEN MEP CONDEMNS TORY-LED COUNCIL FOR GIVING 'GREEN LIGHT' TO PLANS FOR KINGSNORTH POWER STATION

A South East Euro-MP has attacked Medway Council today for giving the go-ahead for proposals to build the UK’s first coal-fired power station in almost 30 years, describing it as ‘ill conceived, old-fashioned and environmentally disastrous’.

In a letter to the council in November 2007, Green Party MEP Dr Caroline Lucas had warned that it risked setting ‘a dangerous precedent’ if it went ahead and approved the plans for Kingsnorth, submitted by energy giant E.ON.

The council, whose decision was postponed at the last minute in November to allow for a site visit, did not have the power to grant or reject planning permission but was asked to give its views to the Government. Despite the lodging of over 9,000 objections to the new power station from local residents and campaigners, the council met last night and decided to allow the plans to pass. The approved application will now go to the Department of Trade and Industry for a final decision.

In support of local Greens who also opposed the plans, Dr Lucas said that a green light for the coal-fired facility sends out the message that a leading council in the South East, one of the regions likely to be worst affected by climate change, is not committed to playing its part in reducing CO2 emissions. Furthermore, she criticised the Conservative contingent that dominates the council for failing to take its responsibilities on climate change seriously.

Dr Lucas commented: “So much for David Cameron’s green politics – the fact that Medway’s Tory-dominated council has fallen at the first hurdle in its supposed commitments to the region’s climate strategy exposes the emptiness of Cameron’s rhetoric on greener living. In refusing to raise the necessary objections to these outrageous plans for a new coal-fired facility, Tory councillors have failed to seize the opportunity to show their worth on climate change.

“The proposed development in Kingsnorth simply flies in the face of reason. Britain is supposed to be committed to cutting CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020 and yet here we have a council approving plans for a dirty energy facility which relies solely on hugely damaging fossil fuels.

“Kent is ideally placed to benefit from renewable solutions such as wind, tidal and biomass energy generation, that can all deliver energy security and new employment opportunities. The EU has a target for 20% of its power to be generated renewably by 2020 and the UK is already struggling to meet its share of the commitment.

“Replacing the existing power plant at Kingsnorth could be an ideal opportunity to invest in renewables and make progress towards the EU target. E.ON’s application is also based on centralised and wasteful power generation, which could waste more than half the energy it generates because it is so inefficient. The proposed development at Kingsnorth may well be slightly more efficient than the existing plant but it relies on dated technology.

“We are at a crucial stage in the battle to control rising temperatures in the Earth’s atmosphere. It makes absolutely no sense to even be considering investing in a technology that relies on non-renewable and carbon-intensive fuels, when renewable alternatives exist.

“We should be looking to reduce demand, invest in carbon neutral sources of power and seriously invest in energy efficiency measures. E.ON’s proposal does not appear to have been developed in this context and I would now urge the Department of Trade and Industry to deny this step towards coal power which fails to deliver either energy security or urgent CO2 reductions.”

Dr Lucas concluded: “E.ON’s plans are an attempt to avoid tighter EU emissions measures. But rather than allowing companies to worm out of the EU targets, Gordon Brown should show real commitment to a low carbon future by backing distributed generation, taking full advantage of renewable energy sources in Kent, and funding renewable energy grants for homeowners.”

Notes to Editors

For more information on the work of Dr Lucas MEP, please contact Melissa Freeman on 0207 407 9935 or carolinepress@greenmeps.org.uk

www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk
Melissa Freeman Media Officer to Caroline Lucas MEP Suite 58 The Hop Exchange 24 Southwark Street London SE1 1TY
Office: 020 7407 9935 Mobile: 07950 382149 Email: carolinepress@greenmeps.org.uk

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