CLIMATE campaigners have urged First Minister John Swinney to reject “disastrous” proposals for a gas-burning power station in the north east.

A coalition of 44 environmental groups, including Oxfam, Fuel Poverty Action and Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland, has condemned the joint plan by Scottish energy firm SSE and Norwegian oil giant Equinor for a new station to be built next to the existing power plant in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.

In a letter to ministers, the group warns the existing plant has been the country’s “single biggest polluter” in the last five years and it claimed any expansion would see Scots locked into paying energy bills set by international gas markets.

Ministers are set to decide whether to approve the planning application, which proposes an expansion of the existing site with a new 910 megawatt gas-burning power station and carbon capture plant, which SSE and Equinor have claimed will slash emissions.

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Naomi Tilley, campaign lead at climate group Oceana, described the proposals as “downright stupidity”.

If approved the plans could run into the 2050s, despite the Scottish Government’s 2045 net zero target.

Ministers face even more pressure to reject the proposal after the Government scrapped the 2030 interim climate target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 75%, with campaigners warning the 2045 target will be jeopardised if the project is given the green light.

FoE Scotland campaigner Alex Lee said: “Organisations from across Scottish society are calling on ministers to reject this disastrous development which will only further enrich greedy energy companies at a huge cost to Scottish households and the climate.

“New fossil fuel burning will critically undermine the energy transition and make it even harder for the Scottish Government to meet its climate commitments.”

Lucia Harrington, of Fuel Poverty Action, said the move will see Scots “relying on expensive gas for decades”.

A Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is fully committed to a just transition to a climate resilient and net zero Scotland by 2045. However, it would not be appropriate to comment on a live planning application.

“A decision will be taken by ministers in due course, following consideration of the application information, consultation responses and representations made by members of the public.”

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A spokesperson for SSE Thermal said: “Credible organisations such as the Climate Change Committee are clear that carbon capture technology will be essential to decarbonising the power system on the way to net zero.

"As Scotland’s only large-scale flexible power station, decarbonising Peterhead is of significant importance which is why we continue to progress plans for the new Peterhead carbon capture power station, which would provide vital low-carbon flexible back-up to renewables.

“The new plant will ultimately replace the existing station and in doing so will deliver huge emissions reductions. We are also exploring how to neutralise residual emissions through negative emissions technologies, recognising the importance of this to reaching net zero.

“Once operational, Peterhead carbon capture power station will help to keep the lights on, facilitate the transition to net zero and create good jobs in the region.”