Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Government Approves more Fossil Carbon Burning

EDF have been given planning permission to build a new 1800MW gas power station at Sutton Bridge, in Lincolnshire.

The Climate Change Act 2008 states:

"1. (1) It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline."

But today Energy and Climate Change Minister, Lord Bourne, granted EDF Energy planning consent to construct a new gas power plant at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire.

The station is designed to operate continuously for 35 years. That takes us past 2050, the Target Date in the Climate Change Act 2008 by which time the UK carbon account must be at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline.

The Minister's decision has put his Secretary of State's duty in jeopardy.

Lord Bourne's announcement in full

The Climate Change Act 2008

Sutton Bridge B non-technical summary of the proposal

EDF Energy is 100% owned by the French √Člectricit√© de France S.A. formed  in 1946 upon the nationalisation of the French electricity industry and now operating as a limited liability corporation 85% owned by the French state. See Wikipedia.

The bulk of the profits from operating the Sutton Bridge power station will, therefore, accrue to the French state while the carbon emissions will be accounted for by the UK.

The Planning Application does not comment on the plant's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions as this is not required under planning law.  There is no indication in today's ministerial announcement that the climate change impact has been taken into account in reaching the decision.

EDF has yet to make a final investment decision so it is by no means certain that the plant will be built.  If the Paris COP21 climate conference in December reaches an agreement that is consistent with appropriate global warming mitigation then this development may be ruled out.  Even without a strong binding agreement at Paris the investment environment that is swinging towards disinvestment from fossil carbon fuels may make the proposal unattractive the EDF.

EDF has an expanding interest in renewable generation, particularly in both on and off-shore wind.  Unfortunately several on-shore wind proposals have recently be withdrawn, EDF Renewables making statements of the form "After reviewing the scheme in the light of recent government announcements on onshore wind, the company has informed xxx Council that it does not intend to develop its plans for the project any further".  See EDF Renewables News reports such as this.

So it is clear that the Government are currently preventing renewable electricity generation schemes whilst allowing fossil carbon based generation, contrary to their statutory obligation under the Climate Change Act 2008 and in denial of the consequences of global warming.
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