Power chief attacks carbon confusion

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The Independent Online

The chief executive of International Power, one of the country's big electricity generators, criticised the Government yesterday over the way it had handled negotiations with Brussels about Britain's carbon emission allowance.

The chief executive of International Power, one of the country's big electricity generators, criticised the Government yesterday over the way it had handled negotiations with Brussels about Britain's carbon emission allowance.

Phil Cox said the dispute over how many tonnes of carbon UK industry would be allowed to produce had caused uncertainty, raised the hurdle for British companies and delayed major investment decisions.

The European Commission warned earlier this month that the UK would have to stick to a tougher target for carbon reductions, based on initial proposals submitted by Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for the Environment, which turned out to be incorrect.

Mr Cox said the Government "could have acquitted itself better", adding that her "more aggressive stance" on emission reductions had left the UK to take a "heavy hit".

He added that the uncertainty had forced International Power to delay a decision on whether to invest £80m in environmental kit to keep its Rugeley coal-fired station open when tougher new sulphur reduction limits come into force. He also said the company now had no plans to build any new stations in the UK unless it could secure long-term supply contracts.

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