The government of the United Kingdom is being sued for approving the biggest gas power station in all of Europe. The move goes completely against the climate change objectives that the UK has in reaching net zero.
The massive power station is being developed in north Yorkshire and if completed it would be the largest gas power station in all of Europe. If it was to be running at its full operational capacity the plant would be producing three quarters of all emissions form the energy sector. This comes from ClientEarth who are the environmental lawyers who have brought the judicial review.
The planning inspectorate for the project did recommend to ministers that the plant should not be approved permission as it would be undermining the Climate Change Act 2008 which the government committed to as the plant would lead to major adverse effects. This is a landmark in the climate crisis as it is the first large project to be rejected because of it.
Even though this project was recommended to be refused permission, Andrea Leadsom the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy gave the project the thumbs up in October of 2019. From this, ClientEarth have now been able to sue ministers from permission from the high court. It is expected that the case will be heard in court in a couple of months. ClinetEarth have previously won three times over ministers for their poor attempts in tackling air pollution.
One of the lawyers for ClientEarth, Sam Hunter Jones, has stated that scientists have been ringing alarm bells for years now on climate change and it should not be the case that the government needs taking to court over their decision. He went on to state there are many negatives to this proposed project but mainly the large carbon output it will produce but it will also be a stranded asset that will need help from the taxpayer.
A spokeswoman from Drax, the company that are developing the project, has said that the company’s aims have been to remove carbon and not add it to the atmosphere. She also said that the negative carbon ambition would be achieved by the new high efficiency plant which will only be used to supplement electricity when there is little or no solar or wind energy.
The UK government is under even more pressure this year to reduce its carbon emissions as it is hosting a major UN summit in Glasgow in November. At this important summit nations will be announcing their plans on how to reduce emissions so that a fatal 3-4 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures does not occur.
In the planning application for the new Drax power plant, it was stated that the new plant was to replace two already existing coal powered plants due to the government’s plans to cut out all coal power by 2025. The new gas plants would also include carbon capture technology to help reduce its footprint.
ClientEarth argues that the UK will only need 6 gigawatts of new gas powered generation by 2035 (from the latest forecasts), but the United Kingdom government has already given the go ahead to over 15 gigawatts of large scale gas powered plants and therefore approving the new Drax project would take it to over three times the governments estimates.
The environmental lawyers have also argued that the combination of the vast size of the project along with its long operating life will make it a major threat in the long run in reducing carbon emissions.