Ed Miliband, the secretary of state for the department for energy and climate change caught many off guard last week when he put his weight behind plans for up to four new plants.

He’s also called for a full scale retrofit of Carbon Capture Storage (CCS), but only within five years of the technology being’ independently judged as technically and commercially proven’.

He believes the plans will put the UK at the forefront of the global race to decarbonise fossil fuels, he said: “In order to ensure we maintain a diverse energy mix, we need new coal-fired power stations but only if they can be part of a low carbon future.

“With a solution to the problem of coal, we greatly increase our chances of stopping dangerous climate change. Without it we will not succeed.

“But, there must be a global effort to develop this technology and the UK is in a strong position to lead this charge.”

However, Climate Camp activists vowed to use direct action to stop the first of the four planned stations, Kingsnorth in Kent, from ever being built.

Emily Moore, Climate Camp activist, said: “This announcement means new power stations like Kingsnorth, even in 2020, would still be much more polluting than the gas power plants built in the last century.

“The only logical response to such irresponsibility is to take direct action to stop these power stations from ever being built.

“To have any chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change, we need to start urgently reducing our carbon emissions right now, by closing coal plants, reducing our energy use and shifting to clean technologies that already exist, like wind and tidal power.”

Luke Walsh

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie