The Scottish Government informed us on 27 June 2012 that this application had been withdrawn by Ayrshire Power Ltd. These web pages summarise the work we have undertaken in relation to the proposed project and will be left available for the next few months for public viewing and information.
Ayrshire Power has submitted an application to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the electricity Act 1989 . The Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 2 designates this proposal as a national development.
SEPA is the public body tasked with protecting and reporting on the state of the environment of Scotland. We do this by regulating activities that can cause pollution, by monitoring the quality of Scotland’s air, land and water and by working to enable those we regulate to comply with the legislation.
SEPA is a statutory consultee on major planning applications and new power plant or industrial installations. We will advise the Scottish Government on all aspects of this application relating to environmental issues within our remit. We will also advise the Scottish Government on whether the Ayrshire Power energy generation plant has demonstrated carbon capture readiness and whether the applicant has submitted technically feasible plans for a capture unit covering the minimum size requirement of at least 300 MWe net capacity of the power station. Further details on our role in the Scottish planning system can be found on our website.
When processing applications, planning authorities may request that we enter into processing agreements for national and major development proposals. These agreements between developers, planning authorities and consultees are intended as a project management tool and will establish timescales for engagement and providing our responses.
We also play an important role in regulating existing and new fossil-fuelled power plant by regulating the operators of energy generation plant under the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) regime. The SEPA Interim Position Statement on Planning, Energy and Climate Change also provides further information.
Further information on the following topics can be found on the Scottish Government website :
- the process for the development of this application;
- Section 36 of the Electricity act;
- the Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2000 (as amended);
- climate change and carbon storage.
Ayrshire Power has submitted additional information that supports their application to the Scottish Government. The government received the information on 20 July 2011 and the full details are available on Ayrshire Power's website. This extra information (referred to as an addendum to the application) aims to address comments made on the original application by SEPA and other consultees in 2010. SEPA now has a limited time to review this submission. We have to provide our final comments to the Scottish Government on the application by 30 September 2011 .
SEPA response to Section 36 consultation for Hunterston
SEPA provided its consultation response to the Scottish Government in respect of Ayrshire Power Limited’s proposal for a multi – fuelled power Station at Hunterston, North Ayrshire, on 30 September 2011.
SEPA is of the opinion that the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposal have, in general, been assessed. We have also concluded that the application is potentially ‘consentable’ under the legislative regimes we implement.
Given these points, we have not objected to the application, but, this position also relies on a favourable conclusion from the Scottish Ministers after an Appropriate Assessment under the requirements of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994 has been carried out. This Appropriate Assessment needs to be concluded before any decision on the Section 36 application can be made.
Our response also indicated that if an application was made to us under the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations (PPC), the proposals may be subject to necessary change to ensure that best available techniques (BAT) are employed and potential environmental impacts minimised. We also indicated that further environmental information will be required to support any PPC application.
It is also considered that any remaining shortcomings in information supplied with the planning application can be dealt with at the PPC permitting stage.
It should be noted that following the guidance provided in the National Planning Framework 2 (NPF2), SEPA did not comment on the principle of the development as this has already been established.
SEPA’s full response can be found below:
Our previous response to the Scottish Government consultation on Ayrshire Powers application was sent to the Scottish Government on the 15 October 2010. A copy of the letter is available here (264kb).
SEPA has been advised by the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) that this case has been referred to them to make arrangements for a public inquiry.
We have reviewed our responses to the application and have advised the DPEA that we are content to rely on our previous written representations and therefore do not intend to give evidence at this inquiry.
We have also advised the DPEA that while we do not intend to give evidence, we would be happy to provide further written responses if required by the Reporter. We have confirmed that we will be present at the proposed pre-inquiry meeting and that we would be content to attend any hearing session the Reporter may set down for the consideration of potential planning conditions relevant to our remit.
Further information on this public inquiry can be found on the DEPA website.
Carbon capture and storage (CSS)
The UK and Scottish Governments are committed to maintaining coal as part of the energy mix both in the UK and in Scotland. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) outlined this in its framework for clean coal (300kb), and the Scottish Government has stated that coal will continue to play a role in base load energy generation in Scotland.
The UK Committee on Climate Change has emphasised the importance of decarbonising the energy generation sector by 2030 to ensure that the UK and Scottish Government’s target of an 80% reduction in CO2 from 1990 levels by 2050 is not jeopardised. The committee has also stated that conventional coal-fired power generation should only be built on the expectation that it will be retrofitted with CCS equipment by the early 2020s.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) supports the expectation that new build power stations[should not be permitted to operate without implementation of suitable CO2 abatement in the future. To assess whether or not CCS will prove to be a viable method for reducing CO2 emissions to atmosphere, SEPA supports the aim of the UK to deliver four CCS demonstration plants. This will provide an opportunity to develop CCS technology on an operational scale.
What is CCS?
CCS is the capture (from a large point source such as a power station or other industrial installation), transport (by pipeline or ship) and storage (within underground geological formations) of CO2, to prevent it from entering the atmosphere. In order to be effective in climate change mitigation, CO2 must be stored for many hundreds of years, at least until well past the end of the fossil fuel era. It is through avoiding the release of CO2 into the atmosphere that CCS is considered to offer an opportunity to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Further information is available at:
A full statement on our position with regard to CSS can be viewed on our website.
Before this application Scottish Ministers were obliged under the EIA regulations to respond to requests from the developers for a scoping opinion on outline design proposals. The scoping document for this proposal can be found on the Scottish Government website . SEPA’s gatecheck response to that scoping study is available on our website (98kb). We have also recently issues a letter to the Scottish Government updating them on our progress with this application. This letter can be found here (63kb).
SEPA technical advice to Scottish Government
SEPA provided technical advice documents relating to carbon capture for the proposed Hunterston Power station in Ayrshire to the Scottish Government in December 2010. This is the advice that we are required to give the Government on the feasibility of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and on carbon capture readiness (CCR) put forward by Ayrshire Power Ltd in their application for consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act for the proposed Hunterson power station development.
The documents are available on the Scottish Government website. A copy of the SEPA covering letter is can be found here (524 kb).
Frequently asked questions
How can I make my views known?
When a member of the public makes a response or comment to a consultation, it is known as a representation. At this stage SEPA is only a consultee and advisor in the application process. While we would be delighted to hear from you directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you do have concerns about an aspect of this application, some points you would like to raise or simply have some local knowledge which you think may be relevant to the decision making, you should contact the Scottish Government directly at the address below:
Energy Consents Unit
5 Atlantic Quay
All e-mail representation sent to email@example.com will automatically be forwarded to the Scottish Government too.
How detailed an assessment of the application has SEPA made so far?
In March 2010 we provided comments to the Scottish Government to ensure that the applicant included all relevant information in the application (referred to as “gate checking”). We checked that all the relevant aspects of the application had been addressed and highlighted some areas where the application needed to include additional information (e.g. on odour assessment and on impacts on the water environment). The applicant outlined their response to these issues on 30 April 2010 and explained how such comments would be taken into account. The SEPA gate checking comments and Ayrshire Power’s response are available on the Scottish Government website.
In October 2010, we submitted our initial response to the application, to the Scottish Government. The response outlined our comments on a number of issues and identified areas where we felt the applicant could supply further information. A link to this response can be found on the Scottish Government website.
In December 2010, we provided technical advice to the Scottish Government on issues associated with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture Readiness (CCR). In this response we also outlined our comments on a number of issues and identified areas where we felt that the applicant could supply further information. Overall, we concluded that the proposals presented by the Ayrshire Power Limited appear to reflect a technically feasible solution for the demonstration of carbon capture for the minimum size requirement. We also concluded that the plant appears to be designed “capture ready” and that the space allocation for the specified carbon capture systems appears realistic. However, we did identify two areas where further information is required before the above conclusions can be finalised. Specifically, additional information on emissions of amine, amine degradation products and ammonia from the carbon capture system, and further details of the steam turbine design and performance is required.
The Scottish Government will make the final decision on whether the information identified by SEPA needs to be submitted as part of the application.
What is SEPA’s legal remit in respect of this application?
We are merely a consultee on the application (ie we have been asked to provide a response to the application in terms of the environmental impact and regulatory control issues). We are also required to provide specific advice to the Scottish Government on issues relating to carbon capture and storage. This relates to both the feasibility of the applicant’s proposal for capturing the carbon dioxide emitted from a proportion (300 MWe) of the total plant capacity and also on whether the remainder of the plant can be considered to be “carbon capture ready”. We do not have powers to grant or refuse this application.
Does SEPA have to consult anyone about the application?
No. However, the Scottish Government does and they have passed the application to a number of other statutory consultees including the local authority and Scottish Natural Heritage.
What happens next if the Scottish Government approves the application?
If the Section 36 application is granted (and is not subject to appeal), it will also require a number of other licenses before it can operate. One of the most important of these is a permit under the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) regime. In order to get a permit, the operator must make a separate and more detailed application to SEPA before the plant is operated.
The application must set out all the specific environmental issues and key parts of the technology. We then consider that application and can either grant or refuse a permit. We have not received an application for a PPC permit to operate this installation as yet. In general terms, PPC permits set conditions on how facilities may be operated, including a requirement for operators of PPC facilities to carry out monitoring (for example of releases) and supply information to us. We will also carry out our own monitoring and inspections and we have a range of powers to enforce compliance with permit conditions. All of this ongoing information will be made available to the public and it can be accessed at our East Kilbride office when an application is made.