Energy giant E.ON has announced the closure of a power station, leading to the loss of more than 100 jobs.
The firm said today that the Kingsnorth site in Kent will cease power generation next March after running out of its allocated operating hours under European Union environmental legislation.
Under the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive, polluting power stations that were not adapted to meet emissions-reduction targets will have to close after generating for 20,000 hours from January 2008, or by the end of 2015, whichever comes first.
Dr Tony Cocker, chief executive of E.ON UK, said: "Kingsnorth has played a huge part in powering the country for many decades. I want to pay tribute to the thousands of men and women who have worked at the station over its lifetime, bringing light and warmth to the homes and businesses of the UK.
"We've been working hard with colleagues at the station to help, guide and support them through the process which will be ongoing until the station closes. In addition to our colleagues we will be communicating with the local community in the coming weeks about our closure plans."
Kingsnorth was one of two schemes shortlisted as part of the Government's competition to build the UK's first commercial carbon capture and storage (CCS) scheme, but E.ON announced in October 2010 that it would not proceed to the next stage.
Dr Cocker added: "As a group we believe CCS can become an important step in the transition to a low-carbon generation mix with the right regulatory, technological and economic support. We're promoting CCS research and development across Europe by partnering with universities and by testing carbon-capture equipment at several of our power stations across Europe. Lessons from our projects will be shared with the UK and the entire E.ON Group.
"Our announcement does not rule out future power generation on the site, which remains an excellent location for a new plant given its proximity to demand in the south-east, but the original plans are no longer appropriate."
Phil Whitehurst, national officer of the GMB union, said: "The news of Kingsnorth Power station is closing nearly two years early, and before new capacity is developed, is absolutely devastating for the local community who depend on the station for employment.
"The engineering construction crews who maintain the station in the outage season will also be starved of the much needed work they rely on in the short repair and maintenance season."
Ben Stewart, of Greenpeace, who was one of six campaigners acquitted of criminal damage in 2008 after shutting down the coal plant, said: "This decision signals the drawing to an end of unabated highly polluting coal in Britain.
"E.ON spent many wasted years trying to push through their controversial plan for another old-fashioned polluting coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth.
"It was a bad plan that didn't serve Britain and pushed us behind in the global race for cutting-edge clean energy and the industries that can bring tens of thousands of skilled jobs across the country."
In 2008, six Greenpeace volunteers were acquitted of criminal damage after pleading not guilty and relying on the defence of "lawful excuse", claiming that they shut the power station to defend property of a greater value from the global impact of climate change.