PRESS RELEASE: Power station petition signed by over 110,000 to be handed to DECC by giant White Elephant

When: 8:30-9:30, Thursday 18th June 2015

Where: DECC offices, 3 Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2AW

Who: Biofuelwatch, London Mining Network & Care2 Petitions

What: Photo opportunity at DECC’s Whitehall offices – campaigners will hand a petition in to DECC with the aid of a giant inflatable White Elephant, with “No Public Funds for Coal & Biomass” written on the side of it

Contacts: Oliver Munnion on 07917693337 or oli.munnion@biofuelwatch.org.uk

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The UK Government is expected to make an imminent announcement of a grant of up to £1 billion to a coal power station ‘carbon capture’ project by a consortium including Drax Plc, owners of the UK’s largest power station [1]. In response to this, campaign groups Biofuelwatch, London Mining Network and US-based Dogwood Alliance, started a Care2 petition [2] against public support for the new power station, which was signed by over 113,000 people. Campaigners plan to deliver it to the Department of Energy and Climate Change with the aid of Rosie, a giant inflatable White Elephant.

The project consists of a new 448 megawatt coal or coal-plus-biomass power station, from which the developers aim to capture up to 90% of carbon dioxide (CO2). It will then be pumped beneath the North Sea by the National Grid. In addition, the new power station is expected to qualify for significant ongoing subsidies paid via a surcharge on electricity bills. [3]

Campaigners warn that the project will waste large amounts of public money on a technology shown not be economically viable, [4] whilst exacerbating Drax’s current global coal mining and biomass sourcing impacts. Drax’s existing power station burns more biomass than any other plant in the world and more coal than any other UK power station. Wood burned at the power station has been shown to come from the clearcutting of biodiverse wetland forests in the southern US [5] while Drax also burns coal from an opencast mine in Northern Colombia for which whole communities have been evicted [6].

White Rose is an evocative name, but White Elephant would be more apt.” Said Oliver Munnion, Biofuelwatch Co-Director. “Public funds should be spent on slashing carbon emissions through insulating draughty homes, improving energy efficiencies and genuinely low-carbon and sustainable renewable energy, not new thermal power stations. The White Rose will be hugely expensive and tie the UK into even more coal and biomass burning long into the future.

With or without carbon capture, this project is fundamentally destructive,” said Richard Solly, Coordinator of the London Mining Network. “The extra 1.2 million tonnes of coal a year that the White Rose will burn will likely come from the same opencast mines that already cause such harm to communities living next to them, whether from Cerrejon in Colombia, or even from Mountain Top Removal in the US. It is simply unacceptable to put so much public money into a project that will add to the impacts of global coal mining.

ENDS

Contacts:

Oliver Munnion on 07917693337 or oli.munnion@biofuelwatch.org.uk

Notes:

[1] The official website for the White Rose project is http://www.whiteroseccs.co.uk/. The White Rose CCS project and a second project in Peterhead were shortlisted for a total £1 billion grant by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in 2013 and a final decision regarding this grant is to be announced early in 2015: www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn05086.pdfHowever, no relevant planning application has been submitted for the Peterhead proposal, while a full planning application for the White Rose project was accepted for consideration by planners in January.

[2] http://www.thepetitionsite.com/857/945/308/whiterose/

[3] Carbon capture and sequestration is eligible for ‘Contracts for Difference’ subsidies introduced through the government’s Electricity Market Reform, however actual subsidy figures are yet to be announced: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/233004/EMR__Contract_for_Difference__Contract_and_Allocation_Overview_Final_28_August.pdf

[4] Europe’s only oxyfuel power plant so far has been Vattenfall’s 30 MW Schwarze Pumpe pilot plant in Germany – though this project did not actually attempt to sequester any CO2. Vattenfall closed the plant in July 2014, having announced that they would largely abandon carbon capture and sequestration research for economic reasons: http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/technik/rueckzug-vattenfall-gibt-forschung-zu-ccs-weitgehend-auf-a-968042.html

[5] For details and evidence see www.dogwoodalliance.org

[6] Human rights abuses in Colombia because of conflict between communities and coal mining companies have been extensively documented by many organsiations over many years, for example:

http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/resources/cerrej%C3%B3nmine

http://londonminingnetwork.org/2014/06/cerrejoncoalcolombiaanabusivemarriagefullofmachismo/

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