National Power to shut 10 stations by end of decade: Environnmental issues and nuclear competition blamed

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The Independent Online
NATIONAL POWER is to close 10 coal-fired power stations by the end of the decade with the loss of more than 1,000 jobs.

The closures will begin next March with the power stations at Staythorpe, Nottinghamshire, and Thorpe Marsh, near Doncaster.

The company blamed increasing environmental constraints, which favour a move towards natural gas. Nuclear power has also been taking a greater than expected market share, while National Power's share has fallen from 41 to 33 per cent over the past six months.

National Power increased its profits, before tax and after an exceptional item, by 24 per cent to pounds 250m in the first half from pounds 201m a year ago. It gained pounds 45m in released provisions after clarification of the position on equal pension rights for men and women.

Earnings per share rose by 37 per cent to 15.7p from 11.5p a year earlier, and the interim dividend rises 14 per cent to 3.75p.

John Baker, chief executive, said that despite increased competition the company would continue to provide real increases in dividends.

He warned that it was a '50-50 call' as to whether National Power or the structure of the industry would be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission by Offer, the regulator. Professor Stephen Littlechild, director-general of Offer, has concerns over the market power of National Power and its smaller rival PowerGen and is expected to decide on an MMC reference by the end of the year.

Mr Baker said: 'On merit (Professor Littlechild) should not refer us, but there are a lot of people screaming and shouting out there.'

National Power's shares closed at 402.5p, a fall of 9.5p.

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