WALES must “seize the opportunity” provided by the possibility of a new generation of coal-fired power stations in the UK, according to the executive in charge of a leading mining firm.

Richard Walters, managing director of Celtic Energy, said the Government’s recent coal-fired power station announcement is a “vital step” in ensuring a continued supply of energy in the UK.

Energy secretary Ed Miliband last month announced plans for up to four new coal-fired power stations by 2020.

A trial plant, such as one which could be built at Kingsnorth, Kent, covering around a quarter of the output of a new coal-fired power station there, could cost between £750m and £1.5bn.

Mr Walters said “We are fortunate in this country as coal is abundant and there are significiant opportunities for CO2 storage offshore.

“What we need however is the support to mine it without unreasonable economic burden and planning barriers.

“By unlocking this source, the coal industry could see an unprecedented revival, with significant positive impacts on employment.

“The UK coal industry has an opportunity here to re-establish itself and emerge as a leader in sustainable coal production and to push to deliver high-tech carbon capture and storage jobs.

“The industry and politicians together can provide a model that can be applied worldwide.

“Here is Wales the mining industry is at the heart of the economy, employing hundres of people and supporting a range of associated industries.

“In the years to come it has the potential to become even more important as the nation seeks to overcome a potentially devastating energy gap, delivering the energy that businessess need.”