Pioneering Humber carbon capture project secures planning consent

A proposed plant in North Lincolnshire has become the first power carbon capture and storage project in the UK to receive planning permission, after business secretary Grant Shapps ruled that the scheme could go ahead.

Applicant Keadby Generation Limited - a joint venture comprising SSE Thermal and Equinor - had sought development consent for the construction, operation and maintenance of a new 910MW electricity generating station, equipped with carbon capture and compression plant and fuelled by natural gas.

According to the firms, the Keadby 3 Carbon Capture Power Station in the Humber would capture up to one and a half million tonnes of CO2 a year, which represents at least five per cent of the government’s target to capture and store between 20 and 30 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030.

The application, submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in June 2021, was determined via the Planning Act 2008 regime for nationally significant infrastructure projects. Shapps’ decision to give the project the green light followed a recommendation of approval from the planning inspector who examined the application.

In his decision letter, Shapps concluded that the the benefits of the proposal would outweigh the harms identified, and that development consent should be granted for the scheme.

Shapps agreed with the inspector’s conclusion that the project would result in a number of public benefits, including its contribution to meeting the identified need for additional generating capacity and support for the local economy.

The project would also represent a major investment in low carbon technology, Shapps’ decision letter continued, “providing 910 MW of dispatchable generation with carbon capture and compression equipment installed from the outset”.

In the letter, Shapps noted that the inspector had highlighted that the scheme represents a considerable commitment to removing barriers to carbon capture and deploying related infrastructure. Shapps added that he attributed substantial weight in making his decision to the  project’s “significant contribution towards the urgent national need for low carbon electricity generation”.

In addition, Shapps found that the biodiversity net gain arising from the development - in excess of 10% - would “enhance biodiversity and assist in enhancing ecological and nature conservation effects and the effects are a positive consideration in the planning balance”.

SSE Therman and Equinor said in a statement that the project is currently at the due diligence stage of the UK government’s Cluster Sequencing Process.

“This process will give the project the opportunity to receive government support, allowing it to deploy cutting edge carbon capture technology and to connect to the shared CO2 and hydrogen pipelines being developed as part of the Zero Carbon Humber and East Coast Cluster proposals,” the statement said.

The secretary of state’s decision letter is available here.