Amendments to EU pollution directive could halt construction of new UK coal plant and close many more

Construction of Kingsnorth coal-fired power station could be threatened by new amendments to a European pollution prevention control initiative.

The UK government, concerned to safeguard the country's energy security, is lobbying to water down proposals on limiting emissions from power plants, documents leaked to green campaigners show.

The directive's proposals would threaten the construction of Kingsnorth, the first coal-fired power station to be built in decades, and could also force closure of many other UK plants.

Today the environment committee of the European parliament will vote on more than 500 amendments tabled to the proposed new legislation – the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) directive.

The proposed IPPC directive incorporates changes to legislation such as the large combustion plant legislation and lays out tighter limits on, for example, sulphur dioxide emissions.

In a briefing paper for MEPs, the government says that the legislation will drive energy prices up by 20%.

The legislation banning the operation of power stations that emit sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are to be introduced in 2015. This affects about one-seventh (10.5GW) of Britain's electricity generation capacity.

However, if the tougher rules now being proposed come in, says Whitehall, a further 8GW of generation capacity could be forced to close – shutting one-quarter of capacity in total.