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Fife Council accused of ‘denying the science’ behind climate change after gas plant approved

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A gas fired power station that will prop up the national grid is to be built in Inverkeithing.

The gas fired peaking plant at Belleknowes Industrial Estate was approved by councillors on Central and West Planning Committee.

Local SNP councillor David Barratt, who is not on the committee, said approving the fossil-fuel powered plant was the “wrong direction” in which to be going.

He said: “Fife Council declared a climate change emergency and in an ideal world, should be able to refuse this kind of development.

“Planning policy just isn’t geared up for the climate change emergency.”

The plant will be built at the Black Shed site on the industrial estate, beside the railway line through Inverkeithing and council planners said it was compatible with surrounding land uses.

Council planner Mary Stewart said it was needed to ensure there were electricity supplies at peak times because renewable energy sources were not reliable enough.

“This back up facility is necessary because for the foreseeable future we will not be able to 100% meet the demand for energy from wind, solar and ground sourced energy,” she said.

Labour councillor Bobby Clelland described the facility as “One of the most inefficient ways of putting a kettle on or heating a house.”

The plant will have a “utilitarian design” and comprise 10 gas engines and generator units.

Scottish Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Mark Ruskell said: “It is very disappointing that councillors have ignored the concerns widely raised about the impact these type of gas plants can have on local air quality.

“Residents, NHS Fife and SEPA have all voiced warnings. Furthermore, in reaching this decision there has been no effective way of measuring demand and no consideration for the climate emergency.

“Fife Council recognised the emergency last year, but they are denying the science behind it. Building new fossil fuel plants is a huge step backwards when parts of the world are literally on fire.”

Plans for a similar gas peaking plant at Clockluine Road, Hillend, were rejected in April last year on the grounds of potential impact of emissions and lack of information about landscape and visual impacts.

However, Gas Generation Growforth has appealed the decision and it will be debated by the council’s planning review body on Monday.

Mr Ruskell added: “It’s vital that councillors don’t compound the problem by approving a second plant a kilometre away at Hillend, which they are considering on Monday.”

Gas Generation Growforth has maintained that “all matters relating to air quality have been scientifically addressed” and that a submission to the council in June last year “showed that the landscape and visual impacts associated with the development would also be acceptable, with little change to the overall landscape character.”

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