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Scotland: communities struggle against new coal

In July 2009, people from towns in North Ayrshire, on the West Coast of Scotland, decided it was time to get active. Faced with plans for a new coal-fired power station on their doorstep, which had already been slipped into the government’s national plans, they had a big struggle ahead of them. They formed a campaign group, ‘Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston’ (CONCH) to bring local people together and give them a platform to oppose the plans.
Postcard action against new coal developments in ScotlandPostcard action against new coal developments in Scotland.Friends of the Earth Scotland strongly opposed the plans as well. Their work on energy has shown that Scotland has no need for more coal-fired power, which would lock the country into carbon-heavy electricity for decades. Scotland has the most ambitious carbon reduction targets in the industrialised world, as well as 25% of Europe’s renewable energy potential. But this project alone could throw it way off course, forming a quarter of Scotland’s emissions allowance by 2020.


The developers intend to fit Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology, calling the energy ‘clean coal’. This is particularly misleading since coal is never ‘clean’ in its extraction, and CCS technology would only ever capture less than a quarter of emissions.


Friends of the Earth Scotland has been working with CONCH, and other environment, poverty and faith groups, to oppose the plans. They have organised stalls, given money for resources and worked on a joint campaign strategy. Their supporters and contacts have written letters of objection to the government. They have also objected to the planning application and supported a court case questioning the power station’s inclusion in the national planning framework. They are also talking to the local council because if they object it could trigger a full investigation.

"As the campaign has developed, the input from Friends of the Earth Scotland has certainly been of value. As a local community group, CONCH is in a continually under-resourced state. The small-scale financial support that FoE Scotland has given has been welcome relief. Their ability to get in front of Ministers, politicians, and local councillors, where CONCH’s overtures are often resisted, is an interesting reflection on the reality of the local representation/democratic process. It is clear that the coalition of national charities working on the campaign has raised our profile through increased web presence, PR resources and organisational credibility."


David Lightbody, Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston (CONCH)


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