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IT HAS long been clear that clean-coal technology would have a crucial role to play in helping Britain to meet is carbon-reduction targets.

With the UK having given itself the world’s toughest targets for cutting CO2 – a 50 per cent reduction by 2025 – it has long been clear that neither the growth in renewable energy, nor the expansion of nuclear power, were happening quickly enough.

Increasingly, then, all eyes are turning in the direction of Yorkshire, specifically the carbon capture and storage plan which would see emissions from the region’s power stations and factories collected in a vast pipeline network, running from the Aire to the Humber, eventually releasing the CO2 into disused oil and gas fields beneath the North Sea, where it could be stored indefinitely.

This is a visionary project, so much so that much of the technology remains untested. But one ingredient which it has needed more than anything has been unequivocal Government support and now, at long last, it seems that this is on the way.

The announcement by Energy Minister Charles Hendry that financial support will be aimed at encouraging polluting industries to collaborate through shared pipelines – rather than identifying and backing individual clean-coal schemes – implies that Yorkshire’s vision is finally being recognised.

There remains a long way to go, however. This region has come up with an imaginative and persuasive scheme that would not only allow Yorkshire and Humber to keep its heavy industrial base in the brave new world of green power, but would also reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while boosting employment in the process.

This level of ingenuity, however, deserves not merely a hint of Government backing, but full-throated financial commitment and it is only to be hoped that this follows as soon as possible.