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A series of failures in Whitehall led to last year’s collapse of a £1bn project that was supposed to make Britain a world leader in capturing carbon dioxide emissions, the National Audit Office has found.

After spending four years and £64m on a competition to find a group to build the UK’s first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project, ministers cancelled the venture in October when they failed to agree funding terms with the only consortium left in the race. The consortium, led by ScottishPower, had planned to capture carbon emissions from the Longannet coal-fired power plant in Scotland and pipe them to be stored in depleted gas fields deep under the North Sea.

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