Concerns over new Fife power station proposal

Concerns have been raised over a planning application for a gas power station at the former Westfield open cast mine site in Fife.
Concerns have been raised over a planning application for a gas power station at the former Westfield open cast mine site in Fife.

A Fife MSP has slammed a proposal for a gas power station at the former Westfield open cast mine site, which is already earmarked to become a renewable energy park.

Mark Russell, Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, has hit out at a planning application for a gas powered energy plant which was lodged just 24 hours after councillors agreed to grant planning in principle to a massive regeneration plan for the former coal mining site, with the prospect of up to 2500 jobs.

Westfield Energy has applied to build a power plant with up to 10 gas engines at the former mine, but Mr Ruskell said this was not part of the masterplan councillors approved just a week ago.

“Councillors were quite rightly excited by the prospect of regenerating the Westfield site, with recycling facilities and a solar energy farm at the heart of the masterplan they voted through last week,” Mr Russell told the Press.

“There was no mention at all in the 105 page report put to the planning committee of a gas power plant, so to see such a detailed planning application being lodged the very next day is galling.

“The applicant is a subsidiary of the Hargreaves group, who developed the original masterplan, so there is no reason why this could not have been incorporated into the plans at an early stage.

“This makes me suspect the whole masterplan was a cynical tactic to hide heavy, polluting industry behind the real potential for renewable energy production at the site.”

Mr Russell said he welcomed the creation of much needed jobs but added: “The local community deserves to be part of the clean, green energy revolution taking place and not have yet more fossil fuel industry dumped on their doorsteps.”

However, in documents submitted as part of the planning application, the developers say the natural gas engines are more environmentally friendly than fuel oils and would only run for short periods of time. It is claimed, the plant would run on natural gas, and be capable of up to 19.96 Megawatts of energy – enough to power thousands of homes. The plant would also offer energy security for peak times of demand as well as support for existing renewable energy outputs at the site.