South Holland Green Party member Martin Blake slams North Sea Transition Authority plans to store carbon off Lincolnshire coast
Plans to store carbon dioxide off Lincolnshire’s coasts are simply ‘greenwashing’, says an environmental campaigner.
The North Sea Transition Authority announced a carbon storage licensing round last week, with our county among 13 touted due to it having depleted oil and gas fields.
This would see carbon transported from its source via either a pipeline or ships before being stored underground offshore.
The project has been labelled as important in the UK’s bid to hit Net Zero targets - but South Holland Green Party member Martin Blake doesn’t believe it is as promising as made out to be.
“In general, the idea of taking nasty substances and storing them at the bottom of the sea is not entirely new,” he said.
“The problem is that you pretty much lose control over it once it’s there, and if it starts leaking then the whole exercise has been worthless.”
There has been no timeframe set on when work may begin at a Lincolnshire site if the county is awarded a licence to store carbon.
However, a North Sea Transition Authority spokesman told the Lincolnshire Free Press that it will ‘proceed at pace’ after licences are handed out in early 2023 - with the first carbon injections taking place between four and six years after that.
A number of ‘highly-skilled jobs in the fields of engineering and geo-science’ would also be created.
However, Mr Blake believes the plan is simply a way to shift focus away from bigger problems.
He said: “This Government has no meaningful policy to move away from the extraction of fossil fuels, so having to tackle the issue by finding a way to store all of the carbon that Shell and BP are creating just seems perverse in the extreme to me.
“It’s a dysfunctional way of looking at the need of achieving Net Zero.
“It’s greenwashing at the same time.”
He also said there are better ways to reduce emissions - such as cutting them off at source, rather than looking to store them after they have been released.
The Green Party member believes this could be achieved through the likes of improving public transport, ceasing the burning of peatland and halting construction on new roads - such as the Spalding Western Relief Road.
“It seems perverse to say ‘let’s capture all that carbon that we’re allowing to be released into the atmosphere’ and find somewhere to store it out of sight,” Mr Blake added.
“It seems to be looking at the problem from the wrong end of the telescope.
“Trying to extract carbon and then converting it into some sort of storable form is likely to be a pretty energy-intensive process in itself, and for that reason my preference is always for those natural forms of carbon storage which have always existed - called trees and plants - which at the moment we’re frantically cutting down and concreting over.”