update September 2015: Drax has pulled out of the consortium which was to build this coal power station, which makes it highly unlikely that the proposal will go ahead.
read the full background briefing here
read the Press release here
At 9am this morning, environmental groups delivered a petition signed by over 110,000 people to new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd. The petition calls for an end to government support for Drax’s new White Rose ‘carbon capture’ power station. Campaigners took a giant inflatable white elephant to DECC’s Whitehall offices and held banners saying “No Public Funds for Coal and Biomass!”
The UK Government is expected to make an imminent announcement of a grant of up to £1 billion to the White Rose coal power station ‘carbon capture’ project, being developed by a consortium including Drax Plc, owners of the UK’s largest power station. In response to this, campaign groups Biofuelwatch, Coal Action Network and US-based Dogwood Alliance started a Care2 public petition against the new power station which was quickly signed by over 110,000 people.
The project consists of a new 448 megawatt coal or coal-plus-biomass power station, from which the developers aim to capture up to 90% of carbon dioxide (CO2). It will then be pumped beneath the North Sea by the National Grid. In addition, the new power station is expected to qualify for significant ongoing subsidies paid via a surcharge on electricity bills.
Campaigners warn that the project will waste large amounts of public money on a technology shown not be economically viable, whilst exacerbating Drax’s current global coal mining and biomass sourcing impacts. Drax’s existing power station burns more biomass than any other plant in the world and more coal than any other UK power station. Wood burned at the power station has been shown to come from the clearcutting of biodiverse wetland forests in the southern US,  while Drax also burns coal from opencast mines in Northern Colombia for which whole communities have been evicted and mining companies have been implicated in funding paramilitary violence and the murder of trade unionists.
Speaking outside DECC’s offices this morning, Biofuelwatch Campaigner Duncan Law said: “We’ve just given Amber Rudd 113,000 reasons not to support the White Rose project. Public funds should be spent on slashing carbon emissions through insulating draughty homes, improving energy efficiencies and genuinely low-carbon and sustainable renewable energy, not new thermal power stations. The White Rose will be hugely expensive and tie the UK into even more coal and biomass burning long into the future.”
“With or without carbon capture, this project is fundamentally destructive.” Said Richard Solly, Coordinator of the London Mining Network. “The extra 1.2 million tonnes of coal a year that the White Rose will burn will likely come from the same opencast mines that already cause such harm to communities living next to them, whether from Cerrejon in Colombia, or even from Mountain Top Removal in the US. It is simply unacceptable to put so much public money into a project that will add to the impacts of global coal mining.”