UK Tops 'Dirty 30' EU Power Plants League
The UK has been ranked joint first for Europe's most polluting coal-fired power stations by a coalition of environmental and health campaign groups.
The "Europe's Dirty 30" study ranked nations according to carbon emissions in 2013.
The UK topped the report alongside Germany with nine of the 30 dirtiest coal plants - many built in the 1960s and 1970s with low generation efficiency.
The study also suggested that while the plants produced just under a third of the country's UK electricity supply last year, they were responsible for nearly two thirds of the carbon emissions produced by the power sector.
It said that in addition to carbon dioxide, the plants in the UK also produced nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, particulates and mercury - pollutants that affect human health and the environment.
According to one of the groups, the Health and Environment Alliance (Heal), air pollution caused by coal power stations in the UK was responsible for an estimated 1,600 deaths a year.
While the report praised Government efforts to support renewable energy sources, it also demanded more was done to phase out coal-fired electricity power generation.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "We are moving to a low-carbon energy supply and any new coal-fired power stations must be built with Carbon Capture and Storage technology which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions while keeping fossil fuels in the UK's electricity supply mix.
"Our low carbon policies are working - emissions are 23.6% lower than in 1990 and renewables now produce 15% of all electricity generation."
The study identified the UK's largest coal plant, Drax, as the sixth-worst for pollutants in the EU.
Europe has increased its use of existing coal power stations as a result of the low price of coal compared to gas, with many of the EU's coal-fired plants now running at or near full capacity - a move, the campaigners argued, was against the bloc's efforts to tackle climate change.
The report was released as the European Commission prepares to announce a decision on whether the UK's "capacity market", which will provide payments to generators to ensure there is enough power available to meet peak demand, meets EU subsidy rules.