The Guardian, Monday 2 March 2009
Decisions about any new coal-fired power plants in the UK have been delayed until the autumn, prompting warnings from energy companies about the growing risk that the country could run out of electricity generating capacity.
Ministers were due to make a decision last year on an application to build the first new coal plant in the UK for a generation at Kingsnorth in Kent - a move expected to trigger submissions for further projects.
However, insiders said the decision was not now expected until after the summer because of a decision by the energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, to order a fresh review of coal policy. The Guardian revealed last week that Miliband was considering plans for tough new limits on global warming emissions from coal plants and wanted the government to help fund more carbon capture and storage projects to make this happen.
The decision was earlier delayed by another government consultation on what companies building new coal plants would have to do to make them "capture ready", announced last year.
Jonathan Smith, E.ON's media relations manager, said: "We do not expect any imminent decision, by any stretch of the imagination."
A further delay in the controversial decision about Kingsnorth will delight environmentalists, who have singled out the Kent plant for opposition, because coal is the most polluting form of energy, and because of concern that building a coal plant without strict pollution control would destroy attempts to curb carbon emissions in emerging economies.
However, Smith said further delays raised the threat that the UK could not build the new plants in time to replace the nuclear and old coal power stations that are due to be closed in the next decade.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "A decision on Kingsnorth will follow our consultation on the conditions around new coal-fired power stations. We are aware of the need to ensure security of energy supplies."