MP criticises ‘dithering’ over carbon capture schemes

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A Labour MP has raised fears over plans to develop a pioneering green energy technology in the north-east and other sites because of UK Government delays.

Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex described carbon capture and storage (CCS) as the “forgotten cousin” in the energy debate, and warned that its backers could pull out because of “lukewarm dithering” by ministers.

A CCS scheme at Peterhead’s gas-fired power station is one of two preferred bidders for £1billion of government funding, but the competition has been beset by delays.

The plans involve catching CO2 at the plant and pumping it into a depleted North Sea oil field. A final decision on funding is due in 2015.

Mr Greatrex said: “If we are to have a secure and balanced energy supply in the UK, and if we are to make real progress towards reducing our emissions in line with our commitments, then CCS is not a vague aspiration but a necessary option.

“It is time for the government to demonstrate that, as energy policy becomes more urgent, the commitment to CCS alongside renewables and new nuclear is real and tangible.

“Anything less risks those backing CCS projects losing heart because of the lukewarm dithering of the Tory-led government.”

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “The government is absolutely committed to carbon capture storage.

“The UK has one of the best offers of any government anywhere to support this strategically critical new technology.

“Earlier this year, the Chancellor George Osborne announced two preferred bidders in the UK’s £1billion carbon capture storage competition. The UK is the only country in Europe to put forward a carbon-capture storage project for European funding.”