Responding to Ed Miliband’s statement to Parliament this morning, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive Duncan McLaren said:

“Coal is the most polluting fuel, and by ruling out completely unabated coal-fired power stations, Ed Miliband has taken a very important step forward. His aspiration to develop clusters of power stations and industrial facilities that capture and store their carbon dioxide emissions is a move in the right direction. It appears that up to four commercial scale demonstration plants in the order of 300MW will be funded by a consumer levy paid by electricity users across the UK.

“The key questions are where these demonstrations actually occur and how quickly they convert from demonstration scale to 100% coverage.

“Scotland has some natural advantages in terms of available storage sites under the North Sea – on which geological studies are further advanced than elsewhere in the UK. A cluster on the Firth of Forth based around the existing Longannet power station (the UK’s second largest source of CO2 after Drax) and the Grangemouth industrial complex must be a very strong candidate for early development.

“On the other hand a cluster based on Kingsnorth would involve building an 1800MW new power station – slower to deliver, and resulting in extra emissions from the remainder of the new capacity which does not have carbon capture fitted from the outset.

“We retain misgivings about the proposed speed of full-scale deployment. For the majority of new capacity to remain unabated until 2025 means substantial unnecessary emissions in the interim.

“We are heartened however by the intention to consult on the use of an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS), which could drive more rapid deployment. The new rules for planning announced by the Minister only cover England and Wales. Scottish Ministers should move swiftly to introduce an EPS in the Scottish consents system.