Drax Re-power

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

Drax Re-power

Received 23 July 2018
From Biofuelwatch


I would like to object to the Drax Repower proposal to replace Drax's final two coal-burning units with ones that burn gas. The proposal is incompatible with a transition to a lower carbon future and is not a sustainable development, as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Earlier this year the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government rejected planning permission for an open-cast coal mine at Druridge Bay. The incompatibility of the proposed mine with climate goals was a reason for the decision: “The negative impact on greenhouse gases and climate change receives very considerable adverse weight in the planning balance.” [Redacted]

Reasons why the proposal is not a sustainable development
Drax is already the U.K.’s single largest emitter of carbon dioxide and admits in its Preliminary Environmental Information Report that burning gas at the power station will “represent a significant net increase in greenhouse gas emissions and have therefore negative climate impacts.”

To meet our obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement, it is vital for the UK to phase out fossil fuel emissions, not increase them. As the recent Oil Change International report states: “Opening new fossil gas fields is inconsistent with the Paris climate goals.” [Redacted] Permitting power stations to burn large quantities of gas will push us beyond the 1.5 degree limit and prevent the UK from meeting its climate change commitments.

Drax proposes to build the largest ever gas-burning power capacity in the UK. It comes at a time when the UK’s North Sea gas production is in long-term decline and Norwegian gas production (the main source of gas imports) is predicted to peak around 2022. This means that greater reliance on gas would require either increased Russian imports or dependence on unconventional gas, especially hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling. There are already 3 active shale gas sites in the UK and a FOI request to the Department for BEIS has revealed the government expects there to be approximately 17 sites by 2020 and around 30 to 35 sites by 2022. [Redacted]

Unconventional gas production is associated with far more leakage of methane than conventional gas production [Redacted] Research shows that gas plants can become a bigger source of greenhouse gas emissions than coal ones if just 3% of the gas leaks into the atmosphere. [Redacted] Methane leakage in the production of gas for Drax would therefore significantly increase carbon emissions over and above the smokestack emissions.

Unconventional gas production is a controversial and unpopular process, which has historically inspired large protests opposing it. The industry and government response to this has so far been to repress protest, for example through the injunctions on protest activities imposed around Ineos and Cuadrilla's (https://bit.ly/2mvsCms) sites in 2018 and the proposed 'permitted developments' [Redacted] categorisation for fracking activities. This is detrimental to local democracy and to communities' engagement with the planning process.

Drax’s plan to replace coal with another fossil fuel cannot help us to decarbonise and will hamper rather than help the U.K.’s transition to low carbon energy. As the ecosystem scientist, Professor Robert Howarth states: “There is no bridge fuel and switching from coal to shale gas is accelerating rather than slowing global warming.” [Redacted]

Rather than paying for an unnecessary gas development which is bad for the climate, we should instead invest in genuinely renewable wind, wave and solar energy which can help us to meet our climate targets.

I urge you to take note of these concerns and refuse permission for Drax to start burning gas.