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in Business 8 October 2007 78 Views

GREENPEACE SHUTS DOWN COAL FIRED POWER STATION, TELLS BROWN: "DON’T BOTTLE IT ON CLIMATE CHANGE"

Green campaigners have shut down one of Britain’s dirtiest power stations and scaled the 200m high smokestack to issue a call to Gordon Brown: "don’t bottle it on climate change". Fifty Greenpeace volunteers took over the Kingsnorth coal fired power station near Rochester in Kent shortly after 5am this morning, ensuring the facility will have to be taken off the national grid later today. They have immobilised the huge conveyor belts that carry coal into the plant by hitting emergency stop buttons and chaining themselves to
machinery.

A second group is climbing 1000 steps to the top of the chimney with supplies to hold it for several days. They intend to abseil down the smokestack and paint the words "GORDON BIN IT" down the outside. The campaigners say that Brown should dump plans for a new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth.

It’s feared that the Government is about to give the green light to build Britain’s first new coal fired power station for 30 years on the Kingsnorth site next to the existing station. The new facility would pump out millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases every year for decades and open the door to new coal fired power stations across the country. Brown has been repeatedly asked to veto the plans but has refused. His Government has even convened a coal forum to "bring forward ways of strengthening the industry, and working to ensure the UK has the right framework to secure the long term future of coal fired generation" (1).

The Prime Minister devoted just a few words in his conference speech to climate change. With scientists warning this is the crucial decade in the fight against global warming the campaigners say he has a unique
responsibility to slash emissions. Earlier this year Brown’s climate adviser Al Gore said "I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal
fired power stations."(2)

Ben Stewart, from Lyminge in Kent, is occupying the 200m smokestack. He said: "Global warming is the greatest issue we face as a nation. If Gordon Brown bottles it on climate change he shouldn’t even bother seeking a second term, whenever that might be. The decision on whether or not to build a new coal fired power station in Britain for the first time in thirty years will be Brown’s moment of truth.

There’s a piece of paper on the Prime Minister’s desk asking for permission to build a new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth. He could screw that piece of paper up and throw it in the bin today. The scientists are telling us we need to slash emissions while the politicians dither. A new coal power station here would pump out over 20,000 tonnes of Co2 every day – more than the 24 least polluting countries in the world, combined. What is Gordon Brown thinking? He can’t tell China to stop building coal fired power stations and then
build them here. Al Gore called on people to take a stand, well today we have."

E.ON, the German group behind the plan for the new coal plant, is Britain’s single biggest greenhouse gas polluter. The company is aiming to have Kingsnorth 2 built by 2012. Despite claims that the new plant
will be more efficient, it is estimated that it will emit 8.4 million tonnes of climate changing pollutants every year, compared to the 8.7 million tonnes the existing plant releases in 2006, and nowhere near the 80% reductions needed to combat global warming. The company also claims the new station would be capable of being fitted with so called "Carbon capture and storage" technology. But even the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, says the technology is "still in the foothills" and "may never work" while the UN predicts it won’t have a significant impact for decades. (3).

The Kingsnorth station has enough coal in its boilers to function for a few hours. After that it will cease to emit the estimated 20,000 tonnes of Co2 that it emits every day.

Greenpeace energy expert Robin Oakley, speaking from outside the power station, said "It’s astonishing that, despite the massive threat we face from global warming, there are plans to build climate wrecking coal
fired power stations in the UK for the first time in over 30 years starting with one right here in Kent. Brown should be investing instead in energy efficiency, renewable energy and decentralised energy. For
example, the London Array offshore wind farm will provide energy for 750,000 homes. Let’s see more projects like that instead of outdated, dirty projects like Kingsnorth 2.

In his conference speech, Brown promised a low carbon Britain without saying how he’d do it. Tomorrow’s financial announcements should include a pledge of billions for energy efficiency, decentralised energy and
renewable technologies."

Most British power stations waste two-thirds of the energy they generate in the form of heat escaping up their cooling towers. Greenpeace thinks Brown should support building smaller generators close to where energy
is used, so the heat created in power stations can be captured and used to heat our homes. So-called ’decentralised energy’ is already working in many European countries and powering cities like Copenhagen and Malmo. Along with a range of renewable energy technologies it is the key to modernising the electricity industry and slashing its massive contribution to climate change. Woking Council has reduced its carbon
footprint by 77% by employing decentralised technologies.

Last month Greenpeace delivered 13,000 postcards to the local council, asking them to veto plans for the new Kingsnorth power station. A group of leafleters are hitting streets around Medway to speak with residents
about the potential for new, cutting edge, energy generation techniques in the South East.

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