CONCH - Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston

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Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston

Archived press releases

Crucial coal-station Public Inquiry Meeting -
Campaigners voice Concerns

Imbalance in resources gives developer unfair advantage

11th June, 2012

With 22,000 people having lodged objections, Ayrshire Power's plans for a dirty coal-
fired power station at Hunterston are the most unpopular in Scottish planning
history. Ultimately it will be Scottish Ministers who decide the planning
application, but before they do a public inquiry will examine the plans in
more detail. This week sees the beginning of the public inquiry process, with
a pre-inquiry meeting being held at 2pm at Seamill Hydro, West Kilbride on
Wednesday 13th June.

Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston (CONCH)
have been campaigning against the plans for 3 years, and
today raised concerns about how a massive imbalance in resources will give
Ayrshire Power an unfair advantage in presenting their case at the public

Tim Cowen, co-chair of CONCH explains their fears: "We have serious
concerns at how the public inquiry is likely to reinforce unfairnesses within
the planning system. Whilst CONCH and other community groups are run by
volunteers, Peel Energy (Ayrshire Power's parent company) are headed up by a
billionaire tax exile. Whereas they will have no problems affording the best
QC, ordinary objectors can't afford such a luxury. We are also worried that
people may be denied a voice because the quasi-judicial and bureaucratic
nature of the public inquiry process will make it difficult for them to take
an active part in proceedings."

Maggie Kelly co-chair of CONCH, adds: "In the past, Ayrshire Power have refused all invites to debate their plans in
public and have turned down requests to share a platform with us at a public
meeting. Now the public inquiry is beginning, they can debate their plans
behind the security of a QC. The unfairness of the planning system makes it
more important than ever that those opposed to the coal station remain vocal
in their opposition and work together to ensure that the plans are defeated."


CONCH urge big turn out for Coal Station Inquiry Meeting

Far from being dead in the water, plans for a new coal-fired power station are heading to a public inquiry.

The first stage of this is a pre-inquiry meeting taking place at 2pm on Wednesday 13th June at the Seamill Hydro in West Kilbride.

CONCH (Communities Opposing New Coal at Hunterston) is urging members of the public to come along to the pre-inquiry meeting to ensure that the public inquiry reporters are made aware of how strong opposition to the coal station remains.

Maggie Kelly co-chair of CONCH, explained “The meeting on 13th June is open to the public and anyone who wants to know more about the public inquiry process should come along. The meeting will determine the scope and timescale for the public inquiry and so it's important that as many people as possible attend.”

Tim Cowen voiced concern: “We have serious concerns at how the public inquiry is likely to reinforce unfairnesses within the planning system. Whilst CONCH and other community groups are run by volunteers, Peel Energy are headed up by a billionaire tax exile. Whereas they will have no problems affording the best QC, local people can’t afford such a luxury. We are worried that people may be denied a voice because of the quasi-judicial and bureaucratic nature of the public inquiry process. It makes it more important than ever that those opposed to the coal station remain vocal in their opposition and work together to ensure that the plans are defeated.”

Notes to editor

For further comment or interview telephone Tim Cowen 07906 578662

CONCH NEWS ALERT : North Ayrshire Council Say NO

9th November 2011

At a meeting this afternoon, lasting less than 90 minutes, North Ayrshire Councillors voted unanimously to object to Ayrshire Power's plans for a dirty coal-station at Hunterston. Citing concerns over health, environment and climate change the councillors were also critical of major gaps in information provided by Ayrshire Power and their failure to have credible plans to capture 100% of carbon emissions from the outset. The council also highlighted the need for an independent health impact assessment; emphasised that a public inquiry was needed given the high level of objections and also disputed that the plans were compatible with the Scottish Governments National Planning Framework.

CONCH are very pleased that the Council has taken note of the concerns of the 21,000 people who have objected and taken on board many of the issues we raised during the evidence we gave to them earlier this month. We would also like to thank our many supporters who have taken time to write to the council as well as the support from environmental groups across Scotland in campaigning against these plans.

North Ayrshire Council's decision gives a very strong signal to the Scottish Government as to how seriously flawed and unpopular Ayrshire Power's plans are. We now want the Scottish Government to show similar leadership and also say no to dirty coal. It is now likely that the plans will go to a public inquiry, but CONCH will continue to campaign for an outright rejection from Scottish Ministers when they come to decide the application over the coming months.

More than 20,000 say no to Hunterston

Damaging North Ayrshire proposal receives record number of objections

18th October, 2011

A proposed new coal fired power station on the Ayrshire coast has attracted more formal objections than any other development in the history of the Scottish planning system.

Over 20,000 people have now registered their opposition to the plans for the climate-wrecking electricity plant at Hunterston – an unprecedented figure according to the government's energy consents unit. A large proportion of the objections come from people living in North Ayrshire.

The previous most unpopular application was the Beauly-Denny power upgrade to the electricity grid network. Attracting nearly as many was the Lewis Wind Farm application which ministers rightly rejected on the grounds of its damaging impact on the environment.

The level of opposition now gives ministers the opportunity to show they listen to the will of the Scottish people and to reject this damaging application.

It has also emerged that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have warned that the development could cause damage to thousands of sites across the UK that are designated for their outstanding natural heritage value.

The Scottish Government's statutory conservation and environment advisors caution in their responses to the application that more than 6,500 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) throughout Britain could be harmed by deposition from the plant.

This news comes less than two weeks after the Court of Session in Edinburgh issued a ruling that Scottish Ministers did not act illegally in deciding that there was a national need for a new coal plant at Hunterston. It seems clear that the residents of North Ayrshire do not agree that Scotland needs this development.

Aedán Smith, Head of Planning and Development at RSPB Scotland, said: "I think these figures demonstrate the strength of public feeling against the building of a new Hunterston power station, and the level of local opposition is clear to see. We hope that the views of local people will be taken into account when North Ayrshire Council considers its position on the proposals over the next few weeks".

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland said: "The area has had enough uncertainty about energy development. The huge public opposition shows that this application should be turned down, especially as we don't believe it will be built should it be given the go ahead. In order to make carbon capture on coal work, even ScottishPower would need over £1bn at Longannet, making it highly improbable Ayrshire Power will be able to build this unpopular station or find a buyer for the site."

Stan Blackley, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Given the huge number of people who have objected, local Councillors and Scottish Ministers would be foolish to ignore them. Scotland does not need another dirty coal-fired power station and the plans for this one should be consigned to the dustbin forthwith."

More than 30ha of a coastal wildlife site used by tens of thousands of wintering water birds – the largest such site in Ayrshire – would be completely destroyed if the new power station is built.

Without 100% carbon capture in place, the scheme would also make a mockery of the Scottish Government's world-leading climate change ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020.

Dr. Maggie Keegan, Scottish Wildlife Trust's National Planning Co-ordinator, said: "The damage caused by the sea temperature rise will decimate the local lugworm population as lugworms cannot breed in warm water. This means that many key bird species will face a double whammy of loss of habitat and loss of food - even worse, there is nowhere else for the birds to go in Ayrshire. Providing a tiny amount of new habitat by way of compensation, really does not address the issue."
Tim Cowen co-chair of Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston (CONCH), added: "CONCH will be giving evidence to North Ayrshire Council at a pre-determination hearing on October 24. North Ayrshire Council will be meeting on November 9 to decide on whether or not to support Ayrshire Powers plans. If allowed to proceed, Ayrshire Powers plans will have a devastating impact on our health, environment and economy. It is vital that the Council put the interests of their constituents ahead of big polluting business. We are calling on councillors to give a strong signal to the Scottish Government and "Say no to dirty coal".

RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Scottish Wildlife Trust, along with other charities, faith groups, and local campaigning organisations have vowed to continue the fight to stop the damaging scheme.

North Ayrshire Council will hear views from objectors and the applicant on Monday 24 October at Cunninghame House, before taking a decision on their position on the application on Wednesday 9 November.


For more information/interviews/images, please contact Jenny Tweedie, Media and Communications Officer for the South and West of Scotland, on 0141 331 0993 or 07899 675131.


  • The Portencross Coast SSSI includes important areas of sandflats, mudflats and eelgrass beds. The SSSI is one of the best remaining examples of inter-tidal habitat left on the Outer Clyde, and provides an important feeding ground for wintering birds such as oystercatcher, curlew, wigeon, eider and shelduck. The proposed plan would involve infilling and destroying this valuable habitat and the loss of the habitat used by these birds as feeding and roosting areas.
  • The campaign against the Hunterston coal-fired power station proposal is supported by a broad coalition of environment and faith groups, including RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Planning Democracy, Christian Aid, Church of Scotland, Oxfam, World Development Movement Scotland, and Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston (CONCH).
  • For more information on the proposed plans to build a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston see

RSPB Scotland is part of the RSPB which speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment.
Nature is amazing - help us keep it that way.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654

4th October, 2011

CONCH are extremely disappointed by the outcome of judicial review, but believe it is a set-back rather than a fatal blow to those campaigning against the plans for a dirty coal-station at Hunterston.

CONCH are urging the Government to revisit Hunterston’s inclusion within the National Planning Framework in light of their own renewable energy targets and growing evidence that there isn’t an impending energy gap in Scotland. A dirty coal station is not compatible with SNP’s commitment to tackle climate change and to promote renewable energy, and if allowed to proceed will have a devastating impact on our health, environment and economy.

We are calling on the Scottish Government to listen to the 20,000 people who have objected to Ayrshire Powers plans and reject outright Ayrshire Powers plans. CONCH will be giving evidence to North Ayrshire Council at a pre-determination hearing on 24th October. North Ayrshire Council will be meeting on 9th November to decide on whether or not to support Ayrshire Power's plans.

It is more important than ever that the Council put the interests of their constituents ahead of big polluting business. We are calling on councillors to give a strong signal to the Scottish Government and “Say no to dirty coal”. We are urging CONCH supporters to post their comments to NAC on the council’s planning portal.

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Some points of information

The Say NO to Hunterston Campaign is being run by a coalition of environment and development groups including Friends of the Earth Scotland, RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland, Christian Aid, the Church of Scotland, Oxfam, Planning Democracy, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the World Development Movement Scotland, and the local community group, CONCH (Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston)

The 'Say NO to Hunterston' campaign believes that the development shouldn't go ahead for the following reasons:

  1. Southannan Sands is one of the best areas for wildlife in the whole of the Clyde Estuary and should be protected from damaging developments such as this one.
  2. As well as potential air and noise pollution, the development would be highly visible and may impact on local tourism, which in turn may impact on local jobs.
  3. The development will cause an increase in carbon emissions in Scotland. This will undermine Scotland's world leadership in setting the most ambitious targets to tackle climate change, which is affecting millions of people around the world right now.
  4. Scotland can easily meet its future electricity needs without this polluting development.

Supporter briefing

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CONCH, Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston, was formed in July 2009. We are a voluntary, independent, community-led campaign, with no vested commercial interests and no party political affiliations.

CONCH gives a platform for people concerned about the proposed coal station at Hunterston to come together and speak with a stronger voice. CONCH’s members primarily come from Largs, Fairlie and West Kilbride, but we have active members and supporters from across Scotland and beyond.

In contrast to APL we are not backed by a billionaire tax-exile, do not have massive PR and marketing resources and are reliant entirely on volunteers from within the community to carry out our activities.

CONCH have met regularly over the last 12 months to discuss Ayrshire Powers plans, research their implications and discuss our common concerns. Unlike Ayrshire Power, we have also held two large-scale public meetings. The first was held in July 2009 and saw the launch of our campaign; the second held in June 2010 was attended by over 160 people and supported by environmental NGOs from across Scotland.



14th April 2011

CONCH calls on politicians to unite in opposition to dirty coal plans

Cunningham North is a key marginal constituency in the forthcoming Scottish Election.There is already fierce debate amongst candidates around the plans lodged by Ayrshire Power to build an 1852 MW coal-fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire.

Although welcoming statements made by prospective candidates in opposition to the plans for dirty coal, members of CONCH are keen that political rhetoric is matched by firm action. They are urging candidates to explain exactly what steps they will take to make sure Ayrshire Power's plans don't get given the green light.

CONCH is urging all candidates to back 4 simple pledges, and confirm that:

  1. as individual MSPs, they will take action to oppose their plans
  2. their parties also will take action to ensure the plans are rejected outright
  3. they will take steps to ensure the removal of the coal-fired power station from the National Planning Framework
  4. they will use their influence to persuade local councillors to formally object to the plans.

Co-chair of CONCH, Tim Cowen, commented: "The issues raised by Ayrshire Power's plans are too important for them to be turned into a political football. We are worried about the tone of the debate becoming increasingly hostile as the election nears. All candidates should be specific in explaining what action they would take after the election and we would also encourage them to explore ways of ensuring a cross-party consensus can be reached on this issue.'

CONCH is an independent community run campaign which is not affiliated to any of the political parties.

For more information:

Tel: Tim Cowen - 07969 350 825

Download this release as a Word document.



WWF SCOTLAND - Friday 19 November 2010

Hunterston: Wish you were here? roadshow hits town

Ayrshire residents encouraged to have their say on coal-fired power plans

People who could soon be living in the shadow of a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston are being urged to show their opposition to the plans by attending a series of roadshow events across North Ayrshire in the coming weeks.

The Say NO to Hunterston campaign is giving locals the chance to have a photo taken of themselves in a giant seaside postcard showing what the coastline will look like should the power station go ahead. [1]

Campaigners will be attending a number of local events in the coming weeks to highlight the huge impact that the facility will have on people and wildlife in North Ayrshire. [2]

Councillors are preparing to vote on the development at the end of January next year and if they vote against it, the decision will automatically go to a Public Inquiry. Opposition to the proposal is growing with over 16,000 people writing to the Scottish Government objecting to the plans, and MSPs of all parties also voicing their opposition.

Julie Stoneman, Public Campaigns Manager, WWF Scotland said: "The clock is ticking over the plans for a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston. That's why we are calling on people to come along to our roadshow events to find out more about what the impacts of this development will be. We want as many people as possible to contact their councillors before January, telling them what they think about the issue."

Tim Cowen, co-chair of CONCH said: "We consider Ayrshire Power's consultation process was flawed and failed to engage as fully as it could have with many areas in North Ayrshire. With a project of this size, it's vital that local councillors engage fully with the community and hear directly their concerns."

Beth Stratford, Energy and Finance Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland said: "The impact of new coal at Hunterston would be felt well beyond North Ayrshire. It would make a mockery of Scotland's climate change commitments, pumping out at least 8 million tonnes of CO2 every year. By 2020 that will be equivalent to a quarter of Scotland's entire emissions budget - hardly an inspiration for ordinary people to "do their bit".

Kelsie Pettit, Campaigner at RSPB Scotland said: "This proposed coal-fired power station would destroy a large part of a nationally important wildlife site at Southannan Sands, one of the few remaining habitats of its kind left on the outer Clyde. It's simply unacceptable that this precious site is not being protected from damaging development and I urge all local people to ask their local councillors to say no to Hunterston and protected this special place".



Friday 20th August

David Takes on Goliath : Will People Power stop Dirty Coal Power?

Plans to build ‘Scotland’s Kingsnorth’ have faced a massive wave of opposition in a major test of both the Scottish Government’s climate credentials and the future direction of UK energy policy.

Today (20th August) marks the closing of a two month public consultation period on Ayrshire Power’s plans to build a 1800 MW coal-fired power station, at Hunterston on Scotland’s West Coast.

Over 10,000 people from 100 different countries have lodged objections to the plans, which if approved would see the first new coal station in 40 years being built in Scotland and the first new coal power station in UK to test out controversial carbon capture technology.[1]

Spearheading the fight against the proposals are CONCH, a community run campaign, formed by North Ayrshire residents 12 months ago, but now supported by people from across Scotland. CONCH are today handing in their letter of objection setting out 15 main reasons why the plans should be rejected.

Tim Cowen, co-chair, says: “We are objecting on grounds which are of local, national and international significance. These range from the impact on climate change, to the damage done to our health and the destruction of important wildlife habitats.”

Maggie Kelly, co-chair CONCH concludes: “We are calling on the Scottish Government to reject outright Ayrshire Power’s plans. They should listen to the many thousands of people who have objected and not be influenced by the many thousands of pounds that developers have spent on spin, green-wash and behind the scenes lobbying”.



For more information contact Tim Cowen 07969 350825

email CONCH. or visit our website



PRESS RELEASE: 25th June 2010

Opposition to dirty coal plans escalate, as “dirty tricks” fail to stop community campaign.

A public meeting being held on Monday 28th June, 7.45pm at West Kilbride Village Hall, will unite residents of Ayrshire with environmental campaigns from across Scotland, as opposition to plans to build a new coal-fired power station, escalates.

CONCH (Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston) are hosting the first public meeting, since Ayrshire Power lodged their application to build a £3billion coal-fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire.

“Many people still don’t realise the scale of what has been proposed and the devastating impact it would have. Formal objections have to be lodged by 20th August. We have organised this meeting to raise public awareness of how to object and build on the growing opposition to Ayrshire Powers dirty plans,” says co-chair of CONCH Maggie Kelly

CONCH had invited Ayrshire Power to join the panel of speakers and have an information stall, but they have turned down this offer. Instead they wanted to meet CONCH in private and limit the number of people CONCH could bring to the meeting to 20.

Just days before the public meeting, CONCH has been the victim of dirty tricks. A 25 foot hand-painted, banner which read “Say No to Hunterston Coal” and gave the deadline for objecting, was deliberately vandalised in what locals have characterised as being “dirty tricks by supporters of dirty coal”. The banner, on private land belonging to a CONCH supporter, was situated very close to Clydeport and the proposed site of the new coal station.

“Unlike Ayrshire Power who have the backing of a multi-millionaire tax exile, CONCH are reliant entirely on volunteers within the community and it was really upsetting to see our hard work deliberately trashed. However, if the perpetrator thought it would stop us from campaigning then they are wrong. It will have the opposite effect and make this local community even more determined to oppose Ayrshire Power’s plans to build a dirty coal-fired power station,” concludes Tim Cowen, co-chair CONCH.

Note to editors

Contacts for more information:
Tim Cowen: 07969 350 825
Maggie Kelly: 07914 803243

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Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston (CONCH) have called on the Scottish Government to reject plans lodged on 2nd June by Ayrshire Power to build a 1600MW coal-fired power station at Hunterston, just 30 miles south of Glasgow, on Scotland’s west coast.

Tim Cowen, co-chair of CONCH says:

“If the Scottish Government support a dirty coal-fired power station at Hunterston it would make a mockery of their commitment to cut carbon emissions and will make it impossible for them to reach their own climate change targets. It would also mean that rather than seeking energy from local or sustainable sources, Scotland will be reliant on importing coal, from countries with terrible records in human rights abuses”.

UK regulations require that any new coal-station must have carbon capture on at least 300MW of its capacity from the outset. This means that around 80% of the proposed coal station emissions would not be captured. CONCH argue that these regulations don’t go far enough, and believe that Ayrshire Power cannot even satisfy these mimimal requirements.

Maggie Kelly, co-chair of CONCH concludes

“Ayrshire Power have not provided a detailed explanation of how their carbon capture plans would work in practice and have refused to discuss or debate their plans at a public meeting. Their claims that their coal station will be clean is the very worst sort of green-wash. Their plans fall well short of the government’s requirements on carbon capture and should be rejected outright”.

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21st May 2010

CLEARING THE WAY FOR NEW COAL – the true price of Ayrshire Power's plans?

In June Ayrshire Power are expected to officially submit their planning application to build a new coal power station. They will be seeking clearance from the Scottish Government to build a coal station which would import and then burn at least 3 million tonnes of coal each year.

At a recent meeting held in West Kilbride, members of CONCH heard about impact that coal mining has on Colombian communities – a country which already exports coal to the existing Clydeport facilities and is the fourth largest exporter of coal in the world.

Their guest speaker, Claire H. explains more:

“Just last year it was revealed that Colombian state-sponsored death squads had used ovens to burn traces of people they had killed in the Catatumbo region. The death squads were sent in to terrorise the people into clearing their land, allowing the Colombian state and Multinationals access to the natural resources, primarily coal, palm oil and oil. Arriving into Fairlie on the train and seeing the coal infrastructure already there I was struck with the horrific irony that Catatumbo coal, got out of the ground by literally burning bodies, could potentially be burnt at the proposed coal fired power station. “

She adds:

“At the CONCH meeting, I was positively struck by the humanity of you who were present as you saw the connections between the violence in Colombia, the determination of Colombians there to keep fighting to protect their communities and futures. So thank you CONCH for strengthening my, and many Colombians, faith in humanity.”

Tim Cowen hoped that the visit from Claire would not be a one-off and that closer ties between communities in Colombia and North Ayrshire could be established. He adds: “Claire’s testimony really made us think about the true price of imported coal. We are more determined than ever to make sure that the proposed coal station is not given planning consent.

“Ayrshire Power’s plans are now expected to be lodged in June and people will have just 28 days to send in objections. Despite DONG pulling out and despite the recent vote in the Scottish Parliament, its vital that people are not complacent and do take the time to send in objections. CONCH will be arranging a public meeting so that people can get more information and also keeping people updated via our website.

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21st March 2010

Community rallies in opposition to dirty coal plans

At a recent campaign meeting members of CONCH condemned Ayrshire Power's false claims that their proposed coal station would be clean; as well as their complete failure to carry out any meaningful consultation with local people before lodging their plans last week.

Co-chair of CONCH, Tim Cowen says:

“Muir Miller is lying when he says that Ayrshire Power has consulted widely. There were four public exhibitions held over 5 months ago, but this was before DONG pulled out and new Carbon Capture regulations came into force. The plans submitted to the Scottish Government last week will be substantially different those on display in October. ”

The final decision on the application will be made by the Scottish Government, but in the meantime If North Ayrshire Council formally object, this could trigger a public inquiry and finally give local people a chance to have their voices heard.

CONCH are urging local councilors to come out publicly against the coal station proposals.

Maggie Kelly added:

“We can’t find a single person in favour of this coal-station, except for those with a vested commercial interest in it.  Last week MSPs voted against it in the Scottish parliament.  We are calling on North Ayrhsire Council to listen to the wishes of the community and join us in opposing these plans.”

Over the coming weeks CONCH will providing written information about how people can object to Ayrshire Powers plans and keeping people informed of all key developments via our website  and e-mail bulletins. CONCH also plan to host a public meeting in mid-late April, in order to mobilise as many objections to Ayrshire Power’s plans as possible.  

Anyone wanting to help CONCH or find out more information should email


CONCH Condemn Copenhagen failure.

Members of CONCH 1 today expressed their dismay and anger at the failure of world leaders to reach a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen.

Tim Cowen co-chair of CONCH said:
“At Copenhagen, world leaders kept telling us how committed they are to tackling climate change, but have shamefully failed to reach a deal. It’s an utter disgrace and a really sad day for not just us, but for anyone who cares about the future of our planet.”
CONCH believes that the failure of the Copenhagen to reach a collective agreement, makes its more vital than ever for individual countries to take bold steps to reduce C02 emissions and are calling on the Scottish Government to abandon their support for the proposed building of a new coal station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire.

Peter McGlone, member of CONCH adds:
“If the Scottish Government are serious about tackling climate change, then they have to match rhetoric with action. At Copenhagen they claimed that Scotland is a world leader and an example to other countries with their targets of reducing carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. 2 Yet at the same time they are supporting plans to build a new 1600 MW coal-fired power station on Scotland’s West Coast through its inclusion within their National Planning Framework.” 3

Fellow campaigner Fiona MacIntosh concludes:
“The Scottish Government’s support for a dirty 4 coal-fired power station at Hunterston makes a mockery of their commitment to cut carbon emissions and will make it impossible for them to reach their own climate change targets.”

Notes for editors:

1 CONCH is a community-led, voluntary and independent campaign opposed to the building of a dirty coal power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire.
Launched at a public meeting in Largs in July 2009, we are campaigning to:

  • prevent climate change through increases in Scotland’s CO2 emissions
  • stop the devastation of the local environment
  • safeguard the public’s health.

For more information about CONCH email:

2 The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 received Royal Assent on August 4, 2009, Part 1 of the Act, creates the statutory framework for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Scotland by setting an interim 42 per cent reduction target for 2020, with the power for this to be varied based on expert advice, and an 80 per cent reduction target for 2050.

3 The National Planning Framework (NPF) sets out a number of strategic developments of national importance across Scotland and includes a new coal station at Hunterston. Once named in the NPF, developments have in effect, advance approval. Objections to any planning application can only be lodged in relation to the detail of the development - not the need for the development.

4 Current Scottish Government policy on carbon capture is that to approve a 1600MW station (such as proposed at Hunterston), the developer only has to show that the coal station has a technical capacity for carbon capture on 300MW of its output. In other words, over 80% of all its carbon emissions would be pumped directly into the atmosphere.


Community campaigners say "now is the time to abandon plans for dirty coal at Hunterston".

Monday 12th October 2009

Controversial plans to build a massive new coal fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire were dealt a severe blow when DONG Energy, one of the two partners in the plan suddenly announced they were withdrawing (1). Following an announcement last week of cuts to their investment programme, CEO of DONG, Anders Eldrup, confirmed over the weekend that they have pulled out of Hunterston.

CONCH have highlighted how the proposed coal power station would have a devastating impact on the community, damaging health, livelihoods and the local environment as well as resulting in unnecessary and damaging increases in Scotland’s CO2 emissions. Members have also lodged a legal challenge to the Scottish Government, in order to get their voices heard in the planning process.

Maggie Kelly, a spokesperson for CONCH said:
“No doubt when DONG were trying to decide which projects to drop, the fact that Hunterston has massive local opposition and an outstanding legal challenge would have helped make their mind up.”

Tim Cowen, for CONCH, said:
“The fact that DONG have withdrawn at this critical stage also highlights what we have been arguing all along – that carbon capture is not yet financially or technically viable on a commercial scale. Clean Coal is a myth.
“We welcome DONG’s withdrawal and are now calling on Peel Energy to do the only sensible thing left open to them – and abandon these plans for good.”

Background Information

1. DONG Energy were a 50% partner with Peel Energy in Ayrshire Power, the intended applicants for permission to build the proposed new coal station at Hunterston.


Scottish Government taken to court as community says ‘No’ to proposed new coal power station

Thursday 24 September 2009

Plans to build a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire, are to be subject of a legal challenge it was revealed today. Despite being faced with legal costs of over £100,000 if they lose, people from the local community have this week appealed for a judicial review of the plans on the grounds that the Scottish Government have not consulted the public according to standards required by European law and that assessments that were carried out did not adequately examine alternatives to a coal-fired power station. (1)

Maggie Kelly, of CONCH and a local resident, said:

Claire, Maggie, Frances, Tim
Clare Symonds, Maggie Kelly,
Frances McCartney and Tim Cowen

“The proposed power station would have a devastating impact on our community, damaging our health, our livelihoods and destroying the local environment.  It would also mean unnecessary and damaging increases in Scotland’s CO2 emissions leading to further climate chaos which will affect us all – across Scotland and globally. Yet under the National Planning Framework, we have been denied the opportunity to object to this major development.”

Hunterston coal fired power station was a late addition to the Scottish Government's National Planning Framework (NPF) and was first mentioned four months after the main consultation was closed. As a result the public were unaware that this major development was proposed until it was too late to comment. Once developments are named in the NPF it is almost impossible for people to object to them. People can influence details such as the design and landscaping when the application goes in, but basically the presumption is that the development will go ahead.  (2)

Clare Symonds of Planning Democracy (3), who are supporting the legal challenge, said:

“The NPF consultation makes a mockery of the Government's promises to make planning more inclusive. The community have been totally marginalized and denied their democratic rights.  Once again we are seeing people excluded in favour of vested interests and corporate power. We fully support the community in their legal challenge and ask that others do so by helping with the costs”."

Tim Cowen, of CONCH and local resident added:

“Local people may not have the financial resources of either the Scottish Government or the developers, but we do have justice on our side. By bringing people together our campaign intends to get our voices are heard and ensure that this disastrous proposal will never go ahead.”

Background information

1) The challenge relates to the Scottish Government’s compliance with the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 and with the European Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Directive 2001/42).

2) The National Planning Framework (NPF) is an important national policy document published in July this year. Since the Planning etc. Scotland Act 2006, it is now a legal requirement for Local Authorities to implement relevant parts of the NPF when producing Development Plans. The role of the NPF is “to guide the spatial development of Scotland to 2025”. This means it sets out the general location of major development and the transport connections between those locations. The document named 14 national developments one of which was Hunterston. Developments identified in the NPF will still be subject to local inquiries but objectors will not be able to challenge the NEED for them.

3) Planning Democracy is a voluntary organisation set up to campaign for a more inclusive and accountable planning system in Scotland. They formed in May 2009 in response to concerns that the new planning reforms are not delivering better public participation as promised.

Read CONCH's objection letter (link to pdf)