Labour face ‘brass neck’ charge over calls for Peterhead Carbon Capture project


By G.A.Ponsonby
The Labour party was last night accused of having a ‘brass neck’ after the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Caroline Flint, called on the UK government to “crack on” with a Carbon Storage project at Peterhead.
Plans to create the country’s first carbon capture and storage centre at the gas-fired power station centre on UK government support.

Referring to the UK government’s timetable for the Peterhead project, Ms Flint said: “It’s important that they start being much clearer about their timetable for making some decisions on this, both in terms of the £1billion investment, but also the European element to this.

“I think we need to crack on quite frankly.”

Ms Flint was speaking on a visit to the north East of Scotland where she also attacked the UK coalition’s tax grab on the oil and gas sector, calling it “worrying”.

However the SNP, who have been pushing for Carbon Capture for over four years, reacted with incredulity to Ms Flint’s comments and pointed out that it was Ms Flint’s own Labour government who sabotaged the original Peterhead project back in 2007.

Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford accused Labour of hypocrisy and said:

“Caroline Flint has a lot of brass neck and not much irony given that it was the last Labour Government who sabotaged the original project in 2007 by refusing to provide certainty over the policy framework required or financial support.

“That project would have been the world’s first pre-combustion carbon capture plant, but because of Labour’s Downing Street dithering the project went to Abu Dhabi instead.

“We now need to ensure that the last government’s mistakes are not repeated and the project goes ahead on track.”

Earlier this month Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Shell UK Limited announced an agreement to develop another Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project at the gas-fired power station.  The announcement followed the scrapping of the Longannet project after the UK coalition refused to commit the necessary funds.

Dr Whiteford claimed successive UK governments had been holding Scotland’s renewables back and added:

“Scottish and Southern Energy are to be commended for their continuing commitment to carbon capture and this project has huge environmental potential, and must be embraced by the government.

“This project will put Peterhead at the cutting-edge of carbon capture technology.  The UK Government must now recognise the very strong case which exists for this project going ahead and the investment it will bring to Peterhead.”

Peterhead is the second CSS project to be embraced by the Labour party in recent weeks.  Last month, after the decision to scrap Longannet was announced, Ms Flint and Labour leader Ed Miliband urged the UK coalition to build a new carbon capture plant at Don Valley in Stainforth, Doncaster.

Mr Miliband said: “It could create a whole new industry, offering the prospect of clean power and thousands of new jobs – and the government must play a role to help it happen by supporting initiatives such as the Don Valley Power Project.”

In June 2007, shortly after the SNP won the Holyrood election by one seat, the then Labour chancellor Alistair Darling confirmed that the UK government would not be committing to a carbon storage project at Peterhead.  The waiting project was scrapped as a result.

Peterhead would have been the first industrial scale project in the world to combine three separate technologies – hydrogen production, power generation and carbon capture and storage – to generate electricity using hydrogen from natural gas.