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The government set out proposals for a new “dash for gas” on Saturday, as campaigners prepared for the biggest meeting on fracking for shale gas to be held in the UK.

The chancellor, George Osborne, and the energy secretary, Ed Davey, announced plans to clear the way for a new generation of gas-fired power stations across the UK. They said this would not hamper the fight against climate change…

As part of the push for gas, ministers set new rules – emissions performance standards (EPS) – that would prevent new coal-fired power stations being built but would provide a go-ahead for gas-fired power until 2045. As the Committee on Climate Change has advised that the electricity industry should be decarbonised by 2030, many of those future plants would have to be fitted with untried carbon capture and storage technology if the UK’s carbon-cutting targets are to be met.

The move by Osborne and Davey was seen as a fillip to the right wing of the Tory party ahead of next week’s budget. Osborne has repeatedly criticised environmental regulations as a burden on businesses, and secured a review of key climate change targets that could result in them being watered down.

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