kingsnorthEnvironmental activists across the globe are celebrating this morning after the energy giant E.On shelved its controversial plans for a new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent in the UK.

Blaming the recession and not the sustained three-year campaign to stop it, E.ON, said the fall for electricity had caused it to re-think.

In a statement  the company said: “We can confirm that we expect to defer an investment decision on the Kingsnorth proposals for up to two to three years. This is based on the global recession, which has pushed back the need for new plant in the UK to around 2016 … we remain committed to the development of cleaner coal and carbon capture and storage”.

However, green campaigners and climate scientists are saying otherwise and are claiming a major victory over what has become a global symbol of the fight over climate change.

Ben Stewart, one of six Greenpeace activists who was cleared of causing £30,000 of criminal damage to a 200 metre Kingsnorth smokestack in one of the most high-profile direct actions, said the announcement was a “huge breakthrough”.

“It was two years ago tomorrow that we climbed the chimney,” he told the Guardian. “At that point they were indicating they were weeks away from pouring in the concrete. To hear this tremendous news shows that the huge coalition against the plans worked.”

Professor Jim Hansen, who gave evidence in the trial of the “Kingsnorth six” said: “This is a step in the right direction. But there must be government leadership to make it truly important. The requirement is to phase out coal emissions, if we want to be fair to our children and grandchildren. “

Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth said: “We’re delighted that E.ON has shelved its Kingsnorth plans – we should be investing in clean energy sources not building new dirty coal-fired power stations.

Camp for Climate Action activist Dennis Stevens described E.On’s decision as an “amazing victory which shows how ordinary people can take back the power from corporations and government which do not value people and the environment”.

E.On’s decision proves embarrassing to the opposition Conservatives, who were yesterday predicting the lights would go out because of an electricity short-fall.

Kingsnorth was in the running to be one of four demonstration plants for CCS in the UK. So the fact that E.On pulled out leaves the UK government’s plans in complete disarray.  The coal industry will be spitting.

Last month, Coal UK, the industry’s main trade magazine said: “The frustrations of the coal and power industries, having simmered gently for the last five years at the government’s inability to make a decision on anything, are beginning to boil over.”

The magazine continued: “It’s CCS which is the biggest cause of frustration for coal, because the industry can see the whole project crumbling if it doesn’t go ahead now.”

This morning, the future of coal is literally crumbing before our eyes….