Zoe Clelland, RSPB Scotland Senior Conservation Officer, gives us an update on objections to the proposed coal fired powerstation at Hunterston on the Ayrshire coast.
Saying NO to dirty coal
The proposal by Ayrshire Power Limited (APL) to build a new coal fired powerstation at Hunterston on the Ayrshire coast has been an important piece of work for us for three years now. The proposals have horrified many people who know the area as a really important site for wildlife – its pretty much a unique piece of mud and sandflat in an otherwise rocky coastline. This makes it especially important for birds stopping to feed on long journeys between breeding and wintering areas or for those that spend the whole winter in Scotland. Its not only RSPB who thinks so, Scottish Natural Heritage designated this as a nationally important site in 1971 but despite this, the area is now under serious threat.
The area's mudflat and seagrass beds support large numbers of wintering birds including redshank.
APL want to fill in over 30 ha of the site to build a new power station, completely destroying the mudflats underneath in the process. When you combine that with lots more activity in the area, pumping of artificiallywarmed water back into the Clyde and the use of chemicals to stop marine life living in the cooling water system, its easy to see why this will be so damaging and why RSPB is working hard to make sure the right decision is taken to refuse this application. On top of that, this power station will burn lots of new coal and result in a big increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Given everything we are trying to achieve in Scotland to reduce the impacts of climate change, this would definitely be a retrograde step.
This week I’m working on RSPB’s response to an addendum to the powerstation application. APL had to do produce this to answer a lot of difficult questions that weren’t answered by their original application last August. The addendum certainly contains a lot more information but it does nothing to allay our concerns and in fact it raises more.
RSPB experts on planning, energy and water have all contributed to this response because we want to make sure that all aspects of this application are scrutinised carefully but of course the fundamental question is a simple one. Does the Scottish Government really want to consent a development that will damage Scotland’s environment now by building on one of our nationally important wildlife sites and for decades to come by contributing to climate change? It seems a straightforward question but to make sure the right decisions is made, please object to the development – to find out how, go to www.rspb.org.uk/hunterston.