EA launches one month consultation on Drax carbon capture plans

The Environment Agency (EA) has launched a one month consultation into proposals to develop Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage at Drax’s power station site near Selby, North Yorkshire.

According to the EA, Drax aims to capture the carbon dioxide that is emitted by the power plant during electricity generation and then transport it via a pipeline for permanent storage under the North Sea.

In order to carry this out, Drax requires an EA permit and a Development Consent Order, following a process led and examined by the Planning Inspectorate.

In the consultation document’s non-technical summary, it notes that despite “the history of Drax Power Station [being] very much enshrined in utilisation of fossil fuels”, Drax has become a renewable generator and “put the climate challenge at the centre of the site’s transformation”. 

However, the company’s green credentials have been questioned. In April, regulator Ofgem commissioned a consultancy firm to carry out an audit of the sustainability credentials of the biomass used by Drax at the Selby site.

In MP Chris Skidmore’s extensive Net Zero review, published earlier this year, he described the carbon capture industry as a “unique opportunity” for the UK, due to an estimated 78 gigatonnes of geological storage opportunities under the North and Celtic Sea. 

The review stated that with limited EU storage capacity, the UK could provide storage services for other countries, if regulatory barriers can be addressed. The review noted that the UK must act quickly to “foster certainty and attract the investment that we need".

Kathryn Richardson, environment manager at the EA, described the agency as having “an important part to play in permitting many of the energy technologies that are likely to emerge over the coming years.”

She continued: “Our role is to ensure that these new technologies, including carbon capture, are conducted in a way that protects people and the environment.

“We’re now seeking views from the local community and interested groups on this application. We encourage them to come and see us at our engagement events so they can find out more and view the plans in detail.”

The consultation will run from 26 May 2023 to 29 June 2023 and will include a drop-in event in Drax village.