Joy and shock at mixed fortunes for region’s ‘clean coal’ schemes

The existing plant at Drax
The existing plant at Drax
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THERE was both delight and dismay last night as Ministers gave tentative backing to one “clean coal” power station in Yorkshire, but abruptly dropped plans for a far more advanced scheme that would have created thousands of new jobs.

Drax Power Station, near Selby, was told its bid to build a 425MW coal-fired power station which uses carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to prevent CO2 emissions has been shortlisted for hundreds of millions of pounds of Government and EU money.

The decision potentially puts Europe’s biggest polluter at the forefront of efforts to find a sustainable future for fossil fuels.

But far more advanced proposals for a 650MW “clean coal” power station at Hatfield Colliery, near Doncaster, lie in tatters today after Ministers refused to back that project with any public money.

The Don Valley scheme had previously been picked out by the EU as the most advanced CCS project in Europe, putting it in pole position for a grant of around £250m from Brussels.

The Yorkshire Post is campaigning for the region to be given the support it needs to become a world leader in CCS, as part of its Give us a Fair Deal campaign.

Doncaster MPs Ed Miliband and Caroline Flint – the Opposition leader and the Shadow Energy Secretary respectively – said the decision to axe the Hatfield project was a “huge blow”.

Business leaders in South Yorkshire said they were “stunned”. Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies called the decision “outrageous”.

“Doncaster’s project was leading the way in the CCS industry,” he said. “I am in a state of shock and bewilderment that the project could not make the short list.”

Ministers declined to give any reasons behind their decision to put forward CCS projects at Drax and on Teesside for EU funding, and shortlist those two alongside two schemes in Scotland for possible Whitehall grants.

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said he was “stunned” by the decision.

But there was immediate suspicion that Hatfield was penalised precisely because it was the most advanced of all the bidding projects, and so would have required funding from the Treasury almost immediately.