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Hutton's backing for coal makes Kingsnorth public enquiry essential

Business Secretary John Hutton’s ringing endorsement of coal as a source of energy at the Labour conference makes a public enquiry into plans to build a new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth essential, says Christian Aid.

The secretary of state’s claim that coal is a ‘critical source of energy security for the UK,’ was widely seen as signalling that he intends to give the controversial Kingsnorth station the go-ahead.

Christian Aid says a new coal fired power station at the site in north Kent will emit in excess of seven million tonnes of CO2   a year - more than the annual emissions of 30 developing countries combined.

‘If Kingsnorth is given the go-ahead, it will trigger a new generation of such power plants in the UK,’ said Christian Aid’s senior climate change adviser Eliot Whittington. ‘Vulnerable communities far beyond Britain’s shores are already coping with the impact of global warming. The UK should be taking a lead in tackling the problem, not making matters worse.

'No new coal fired power stations should be built without the technology to capture and store the CO2 emissions from the outset. Christian Aid supports developing this technology, but high-emitting power plants should not be given the green light in the meantime.

‘There is strong evidence that with proper investment, renewables such as wind and solar power will help fulfil the UK’s energy needs at least until 2020. A public enquiry to examine such findings in detail is essential.’

For more press information, please contact Andrew Hogg on +44 (0) 207 523 2058 or ahogg@christian-aid.org

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Notes to Editors:

Christian Aid will be organising a debate on coal versus renewables at the conference at which Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks will speak. It takes places tomorrow, Tuesday September 23, at 12.45pm at Charter 5, Manchester Central, inside the conference security cordon.

Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in more than 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

Christian Aid supports I Count, the campaign of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition which brings together over 70 organisations, from environment, development charities to unions, faith and women's groups.

I Count backs a Climate Change Bill which commits the UK to at least 80 per cent reduction in CO2 by 2050.