Despite still being Europe’s muckiest power station (5m tonnes of carbon p.a.) things have gone quiet around ScottishPower’s proposal to coin more millions for their Iberdrola masters by adapting the coal-fired station at Cockenzie into a CCGT (Combined-Cycle Gas Turbine) plant. Because it is so polluting, the old station must close by 2015. and, since Scotland already exports electricity to both England and Ireland, could be replaced by less export and/or more renewables.
“Replacing one fossil fuel plant with another is the logic of the 20th century,” said Green MSP, Patrick Harvie. ELC agreed with him and lodged six objections but, in so doing, were prohibited from supporting local communities who simply wanted it gone, or objecting to burning imported fossil fuel, or insisting on carbon capture to reduce environmental impact, or laying the feed pipeline undersea.
ScottishPower’s lawyers played clever games. They had said nothing until East Lothian’s local plan (which, with no other information, assumed a 2015 closure) was agreed and allowable grounds for objection became so narrow that ELC’s lawyers recommended withdrawing all objections to save six figures of public money on a public enquiry that could only fail.
Applications to lay the 17km pipeline from the main N-S feeder gas pipe at East Fortune are now in train. Although the 600mm (2ft) diameter pipe will be buried along the whole route, issues of acceptable distance from habitation and damage caused while building are unresolved.
The least damaging power station is one that isn’t built at all but Cockenzie is such a dinosaur from an industrial era long diappeared and now surrounded by housing that ScottishPower have a brass neck to push through this travesty of progress without a single project on offer to local communities as compensation.