Hunterston Power Station

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Hunterston Power Station is a cancelled power station in West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Hunterston Power Station West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom 55.720194, -4.89893 (approximate)

The map below shows the approximate location of the power station.

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Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology Start year Retired year
Unit 1 cancelled coal - bituminous 1600 supercritical

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner
Unit 1 Ayreshire Power [100.0%]


The power station had been proposed by Ayrshire Power, which is owned by Peel Energy Ltd.[1]

The proposal for Hunterston would have been the first coal-fired power station built in Scotland since the 1970s, and comes as the nearby Hunterston B nuclear power station is being prepared for decommissioning.[2]

In June 2012 the company announced that it was "withdrawing its planning application and withdrawing from the current CCS demonstration project funding competitions. APL has taken this decision due to the level of uncertainty surrounding the ability to secure the necessary financial investment to build the power station in the foreseeable economic climate." The company stated that, while it remained committed to pursuing a coal power stations with carbon capture and storage "the timing of the economic slowdown and funding uncertainty have not worked in our favour. We will now take some time to consider our options and determine under what circumstances we will revisit our proposals.”[3]

The company's decision to put the proposed plant on hold was welcomed by environmentalists. Aedán Smith, head of planning at Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland told the Guradian that "this is absolutely fantastic news. This unnecessary and hugely unpopular proposal would have completely destroyed part of a nationally important wildlife site and seriously undermined Scotland's ambitions to be a world leader on climate change. Although it is disappointing that any developer would even consider such a damaging proposal, we are pleased that Peel have finally recognised the absurdity of these plans and made a sound decision that will save everybody the further time and expense of fighting them."[4]

Legal Challenges

The proposals by Ayrshire Power are for a site between the existing Clydeport coal handling facility at the Hunterston Terminal and the Hunterston B nuclear power plant. A judicial review was raised after the Scottish government decided to include the planned facility as a National Development in the National Planning Framework. Campaigners said this was denying them a voice and effectively making it more difficult for Ayrshire Power's application to be denied at a later stage. Marco McGinty from Saltcoats, who lives near where the coal plant would be built, mounted a legal challenge with the help of RSPB, WWF and Friends of the Earth. In October 2011, the appeal was rejected, as judges ruled that a consultation process undertaken by Ayrshire Coal had been sufficient. This meant campaigners could not challenge the need for the plant - only matters such as the site and design.[5]

Plans for the £3 billion power station later attracted more than 20,000 objections, which campaigners said is a record high for any project in Scotland. Energy minister Fergus Ewing will make a final decision on the plant after North Ayrshire Council sets out its own position on the proposal in November 2011.[6]

Plant rejected by North Ayrshire Council

On November 8, 2011, North Ayrshire councillors objected to the new coal-fired plant, putting the decision whether to approve the scheme in the hands of the Scottish Alex Salmond’s Government. The plant's record 21,000 objections before it was turned down made it the most unpopular planning application ever in Scotland. The Scottish Government will now hold a public inquiry before deciding whether to approve the scheme.

Among reasons for rejecting the plans were that:

  • The power station would not capture 100 per cent of carbon emissions from the first day of operation.
  • It would have an adverse impact on the landscape.
  • There was not enough information on the impact on human health and the environment.[7]

Government planning report: No need for new coal plants

The public inquiry into the £3 billion coal station was called into question after a 2012 Scottish Government report rejected the need for additional plants anywhere in the country. The government's new planning monitoring report, which gives its latest views on planning policy, appears to be at odds with its own national planning framework. While the 2009 framework lists the new Hunterston power station as one of 14 national planning priorities, the new report says it, "sees no energy need to increase the number of thermal power plants".

The station's detractors believe this makes pointless the public inquiry, and its cost of a million pounds.

A legal source that wanted to be anonymous said that it would be difficult for politicians to stop the inquiry at this stage. Instead, the monitoring report could leave the government open to a challenge from either side that the inquiry has been prejudiced. This could raise the cost to the public even further.

The government report says the country needs a minimum of 2.5GW of capacity from fossil-fuel-burning stations for the future. At present Scotland has around 4.8GW from the stations at Longannet in Fife, Cockenzie in East Lothian and Peterhead. The 1.2GW Cockenzie Power Station is due to close by 2013 but owner Scottish Power already has planning permission to build a gas-fired replacement. Longannet may stay open well into the 2020s while Peterhead has no close date. Assuming Scottish Power goes ahead with the new Cockenzie, the new report therefore seems to indicate the government believe the plant proposed by Ayrshire Power at Hunterston is unnecessary. It was produced by the same department that will be responsible for the public inquiry.

The report will be a new concern for Ayrshire Power owner Peel Energy, the company behind the proposal. As well as facing the public enquiry, Peel has already lost Danish partner Dong Energy and is having to fight an appeal in a case for judicial review.[8]

Citizens groups opposed to Hunterston power station

Articles and Resources


Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.