Environmentalists and energy experts have criticised a report that claimed the closure of coal-fired power stations could lead to blackouts during the winter of 2017-18.

The report was issued by the British Infrastructure Group (BIG), a cross-party collection of MPs chaired by Conservative member Grant Shapps.

The report claimed Great Britain’s spare electricity margin had fallen from 17% during the winter of 2011-12 to about 1% in 2016-17.

But Kate Blagojevic, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “It is laughable that anyone would take this report seriously. Only one MP supported it, and that’s Grant Shapps.

“The 1% figure for the electricity margin is just scaremongering by climate sceptics and those with vested interests in keeping dirty, polluting old coal power stations online.”

‘Tight but manageable’

Jim Watson, director of the UK Energy Research Centre, said the margin was really 6.6%, slightly higher than the previous winter.

He added: “Whilst it would be desirable to have a higher margin, it is also wrong to blame this situation on the closure of coal-fired power stations. These stations are old and were due to close anyway.”

National Grid had previously described its margin was “tight but manageable”.

> Download the report