Environmental campaigners are calling for Aberdeenshire councillors to object a planning application for a huge new gas-fired power station at Peterhead.

Councillors on the Council’s Infrastructure Commitee will this week (15/6/23) scrutinise and vote on energy giant SSE’s plans to build an extra 910MW fossil fuel plant in the North East, at the site of the existing power station.

The developer SSE was forced by the environmental watchdog SEPA to admit the additional power station at the site would increase climate-damaging pollution. The existing Peterhead power station spews out over 1 million tonnes of climate harming gases annually and has already been the single most polluting site in Scotland for several years.

The final decision on the projposal rests with the Scottish Government but the local authority is an important consultee in the planning process . Campaigners say the project risks locking Scottish households into dependence on expensive, volatile fossil fuels beyond 2045. Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure such as this has been described as ‘economic and moral madness’ by the UN secretary-general.

Friends of the Earth Scotland climate campaigner Alex Lee commented,

“The climate crisis means that the Peterhead fossil gas plant must be stopped. New fossil fuel infrastructure only benefits greedy energy firms and those companies who want to keep us hooked on oil and gas for decades to come. Scotland’s biggest polluter cannot be allowed to get even worse.

“Scottish Government Ministers will have the final say on whether to cancel this project but Councillors this week can throw a real spanner in the works by formally objecting to this application.

‘Rotten foundations’ of carbon capture

Climate campaigners says that councillors must thoroughly interrogate the planning application’s use of the controversial carbon capture technology which developers claim will be added to the project later. There is no carbon capture project working at scale in the UK and the 90% level of carbon capture the planning application claims it will meet have never been achieved anywhere in the world.

The carbon capture element is dependent on the neighbouring Acorn project which remains mired in delays and has failed to receive the UK Government funding that appears essential for it to progress.

“Local councillors have an opportunity and a responsibility to interrogate the claims of the developers of this climate-wrecking project. The whole plan is to be built on the rotten foundations of carbon capture, which is a technology with a long, inglorious history of repeated failures.

“There is a mountain of evidence that shows carbon capture, if it is ever added, will not work at the rates promised by industry, which would then further jeopardise our efforts to meet climate targets.

“Local representatives have a chance to send a clear message that the future of the north east of Scotland must be built on good green jobs, renewable energy and putting the needs of workers and communities at the very heart of transition planning.”

Notes to Editors

Aberdeenshire Council Infrastructure Services Committee agenda for meeting Thursday 15 June 2023

In February 2022 SSE and Equinor submitted a planning application to build a new gas fired power station in addition to the existing plant at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.

The admission of an increase in pollution was made in planning documents from SSE responding to environmental regulator SEPA’s questioning of the proposals.

SSE conceded that “should both of the plants operate simultaneously this will result in an emissions increase from approx. 1.29MTCO2e to 1.54MTCO2e. This would represent 10.7% of the Scottish Carbon Budget in 2034”

A 2022 report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis looked at 13 carbon capture projects – over half of total global capacity – and found CCS was “wildly unrealistic as a climate solution” and found that “using carbon capture as a greenlight to extend the life of fossil fuel power plants is a significant financial and technical risk.”

A 2021 report from climate experts at the Tyndall Centre of Climate Research found that CCS technology is not a viable option for the rapid emissions cuts required in energy over the crucial years to 2030.

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.