Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

British Government Sued for Approving Europe’s Largest Gas-Fired Power Plant

Energy
The Drax Power Station in Carlton, North Yorkshire, England. Ian Britton / Flickr

Client Earth has the green light from a British court to sue the UK government for undermining its own planning authority's concerns about the climate crisis when it approved Europe's largest gas-fired power station, according to The Independent.


Planning inspectors had recommended that the government not approve the power plant in North Yorkshire, owned by Drax, because of its enormous carbon footprint. The plant, once fully operational, could produce 75 percent of the UK's emissions from the power sector, according to lawyers at the environmental law charity Client Earth, as The Guardian reported. Energy, in total, accounts for 20 percent of the UK's carbon footprint.

Despite the planning inspectors' warning, Andrea Leadsom, the secretary of state for business, energy, and industrial strategy, approved the project in October. Client Earth quickly stepped in with legal action. Now Britain's high court ruled that the charity has the legal authority to sue ministers. The case is expected to be heard in a couple of months, according to The Guardian.

When planning inspectors first recommended against the project, they said the massive power plant is at odds with the direction that development needs to go. They said the 3.6GW power plant "would undermine the government's commitment, as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008, to cut greenhouse emissions" by having "significant adverse effects." According to The Guardian, the Drax plant was the first big project rejected because of the climate crisis.

Considering the stark warning from the planning authority, Client Earth was angered at Andrea Leadsom's decision, which threatens the UK's commitment to net-zero emissions and to combating the climate crisis.

"With scientists ringing the alarm bells for decades, we shouldn't need to take the government to court over its decision," said Sam Hunter Jones, a lawyer with Client Earth, as The Independent reported.

"The secretary of state has ignored the recommendations of her own planning authority, and her decision is at odds with the government's own climate change plans to decarbonize in a cost-effective manner."

He added: "As the planning inspectorate found, if this plant goes ahead the public risks a carbon budget blowout, or a huge stranded asset that would require propping up by the taxpayer, or a combination of the two."

Drax, which announced the plan to build the massive plant in 2017, has consistently defended the plant as part of a plan to remove carbon from the atmosphere by 2030, which is a contradiction to what the planning inspectors concluded. A Drax spokeswoman told The Guardian that the company's carbon negative ambition could be achieved alongside "new, high efficiency gas power capacity as part of our portfolio" and provide electricity when the wind was not blowing or the sun shining.

Leadsom argued that the climate crisis was not a good reason to stop the plant from going forward. "While the significant adverse impact of the proposed development on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to atmosphere is acknowledged, the policy set out in the relevant National Policy Statements makes clear that this is not a matter that should displace the presumption in favor of granting consent," she said, as The Guardian reported.

Client Earth has pointed out that the UK does not need the power from the Drax station. It pointed to the UK government's most recent prediction that the country will need 6GW more of electricity by 2035. However, it has already approved more than 15GW of large-scale gas plants, so the Drax project would mean the UK has three times what the government estimates it will need, as The Guardian reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less