SNP calls for reversal of Longannet ‘betrayal’


By a Newsnet reporter
The SNP has called on the UK coalition to reverse its decision to withdraw funding from the Longannet Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS) project.
At the party conference in Inverness delegates voted unanimously for the UK government to change its mind on the ground breaking scheme.

The UK Government’s decision to torpedo development of a Carbon Capture and Storage plant at Longannet has met with fury in Scotland with First Minister Alex Salmond calling it “sabotage”.

The project at Scottish Power’s 2400 MW coal-fired power station in Fife had been the last one standing in the UK government’s long-running £1 billion CCS demonstration programme competition.

Dunfermline SNP MSP Bill Walker, who represents Longannet, said:

“For the second time the UK Government are sabotaging the development of a carbon capture plant  in Scotland – first Peterhead, now Longannet – and they must reverse this Westminster betrayal.

“There is massive potential for Carbon Capture and Storage in Scotland, and we could and should be the hub for exporting this vital technology – Westminster must get its act together to save this ground breaking project before it is too late.

The Nationalist MSP insisted that the decision could damage one of Scotland’s developing industries where, he said, we currently have a competitive edge.  Mr Walker claimed that the decision could also prove to be devastating to the area’s local coal industry, and added:

“The workforce at Longannet have worked tirelessly on this ground breaking opportunity that would help tackle climate change and deliver jobs and growth in the process.

“Allowing this project to fall would be a scandalous betrayal of the industry by the Liberal Democrats and their Tory masters.”

SNP Westminster Energy spokesperson Mike Weir MP added:

“When the last Labour government torpedoed the Peterhead project in 2007 the Tories branded it a ‘disaster’ and ‘stain on the government’s reputation’ – but these same critics have now repeated this disgraceful decision.

“The UK Government has repeatedly cited CCS technology as central to the UK’s green industrial future. To throw away the only feasible CCS project is short sighted and will imperil a potentially huge new industry in Scotland and the long term use of the North Sea’s infrastructure for carbon storage.

“With years of experience in the oil and gas, Scotland has the competitive edge in terms of skills and resources to take new energy technology forward but the Westminster Government is holding us back. We’re in the absurd situation of pumping billions of pounds worth of revenue in the UK Treasury while UK ministers refuse to invest in keystone projects like Longannet.

“All of this underlines yet again why Scotland must have the powers of a normal nation to invest in our economic priorities to secure jobs and the long term future of our core industries instead of watching them being squandered.”

On Thursday, Professor Stuart Haszeldine, an expert in the field of Carbon Storage claimed that the Longannet project was technically sound.  The academic rubbished Lib Dem Minister Chris Huhne’s claim that the proposed pipeline was too long.

Professor Haszeldine also questioned the UK government’s claim that it was willing to put £1 billion into the Longannet project saying that official documents indicated that the true figure was between £600 and £700 million.