Go-ahead for power station

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The Independent Online

The first major power station development in the UK for nearly five years was given the green light by British Gas owner Centrica today.

The gas-fired plant at Langage, Devon, could start commercial operations in winter 2008/09 and meet 11% of Centrica's peak residential electricity demand.

Centrica is spending £400 million on the project, which comes as the energy industry looks for ways to secure the future power needs of UK customers.

Once Langage is operational, Centrica will be able to supply around 71% of its forecast peak demand from its own sources, which also include renewable power generation assets and a supply contract with the coal-fired station Drax.

Centrica acquired the Langage project in August 2004 after the previous owners of the site secured planning consent in November 2000. The British Gas company expects that contractor Alstom will start work on the scheme later this year.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks welcomed the move today, which he said would secure future energy needs.

He said: "Langage will contribute towards the UK's security of supply as new and more efficient power stations are needed in the coming years to replace existing plant."

Centrica said Langage would be one of the UK's most efficient power stations and able to supply the equivalent annual power needs of more than one million homes.

The station, which is one of only a small number of large-scale projects in the UK with planning consent, will come online as generation reserves continue to decline.

Chief executive Sir Roy Gardner said such developments would also enable the company to remain competitive on prices.

He added: "Faced with a volatile wholesale energy market and a predicted reduction of power generation sources in the UK over the coming years, this major investment signals Centrica's commitment to secure the future energy needs for our British Gas customers."