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Experts grilled on Kingsnorth power plan

More than 70 people turned out to air their views about the future of Kingsnorth Power Station.

A debate on the issue was held at The Sunlight Centre, Gillingham on Thursday evening.

People crowed into the hall to grill a panel of experts and policy makers on plans to build the first coal fired power station in a generation at the site in Hoo.

The panel consisted of prospective MPs for Rochester and Strood; Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab), Cllr Geoff Juby (Lib Dem) and Cllr Mark Reckless (Con), as well as Dr Mark Avery, conservation director at the RSPB, Robin Webster, head of energy at Friends of the Earth, and Andy Rogers, spokesman for local campaign group Kingsnorth Climate Action Medway.

The event, one of a series of Kingsnorth 'questions times’ taking place around the country, was hosted by the World Development Movement (WDM) and Stop Climate Chaos Coalition.

Each panel member was given a few minutes to talk about Kingsnorth and the wider issue of climate change.

This was followed by a chance for guests to put their questions to the panel, which was chaired by Benedict Southworth, director of WDM.

Questions ranged from the truth surrounding the energy gap, to whether or not the government can meet its carbon emission targets if the new power station goes ahead.

Cllr Teresa Murray said she was encouraged to see so many people turn up on the night.

She added: “It’s our world, our local environment and our area. One of the things events like this can do is give people more information in a form they can understand, absorb and contribute to, rather than producing pamphlets, leaflets or news reports.

“A lot more information is to come forward before a decision can be made. It’s a complex problem. Coal is a dirty form of power, there is no question in my mind about that. But equally, we don’t want the lights to go out.

“Only two per cent of our energy is generated by renewables, there is a very long way to go. We can’t say that at any point we can just close down power stations with poor emissions, we have got to consider what to do in the very long term.

Cllr Geoff Juby, said the Liberal Democrat party was fighting the issue at a national and local level.

He added: “A new coal fired power station should not be built in the UK until carbon capture technology is ready.”

Mark Avery from the RSPB said: “We are going have to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Every decision we make, whether it is to build a new runway at Heathrow or a new coal fired power station, is going to constrain our options in the future. Every silly decision we make now will make it even more draconian in the future.”

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