THE criticism directed at the British government for delaying a decision on what are called “environmental performance standards” may not be justified.

It is true that both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have in the past supported this idea in relation to the new generation of power stations that Britain needs; it was seen as a way of avoiding a return to carbon generating coal-fired power stations, which still have a powerful lobby of support, and an encouragement to the use of nuclear power. But this week's news that the standards will not be included in the government's impending Energy Bill has led to worries that the government already has decided to give the go-ahead to the proposed Kingsnorth coal-powered station. Not so, says the Department of Energy, claiming that it first wants a wider review and consultation on alternative plants with the aim of including conclusions in a White Paper to be published in the new year. Too many hasty decisions on difficult and complex issues have been made by the government in the past three months. Any decision on power generation will have consequences lasting two or more decades and should not be rushed.

In principle the environmental performance standard is a sound concept and likely to survive further examination and consultation.


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