Hutton backs coal despite protests

Plans for a new generation of coal-fired power stations have received clear backing from the Government.

John Hutton, the Business Secretary, gave a clear signal that Britain would press ahead with new coal-fired power stations, despite plans for huge investment in renewable energy and nuclear power to meet global warming targets.

He is understood to be determined to approve contentious plans for a new coal-fired plant at Kings-north in Kent, which has become a cause célèbre among campaigners determined to block expansion of coal-fired generation.

Campaigners say as many as seven coal-fired power stations are planned, which would destroy the Government's green credentials.

Yesterday Mr Hutton said all new power stations would work with carbon capture and storage technology and announced four bidders competing to build a demonstration plant to be operational by 2014.

Ministers hope the technology will remove up to 90 per cent of carbon from power stations before it enters the environment. Mr Hutton said: "Coal is and will continue to be a feature of the UK's electricity mix."

But a Greenpeace spokes-man said a decision to press ahead would be disastrous. "Coal is the most climate wrecking method of generating electricity known to man. Carbon capture is unlikely to be commercially viable for a long time".

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