RWE npower and E.ON in England are lobbying the opposition political party to keep some of the nation’s most polluting power stations operating beyond a deadline set by the European Union, it has been revealed.

According to an investigation by The Times newspaper, the two German-owned companies have held private talks with senior Conservative Party politicians about the legal position of nine coal and oil-fired power plants due to close by the end of 2015.

Together, the six coal and three oil-fired plants generate 12.3GW of electricity; about 15% of total UK electricity supplies.

E.ON and RWE are pressing for at least some of the plants to be exempted from the EU rules due to a fear that Britain could face blackouts by 2015 because not enough replacement stations are being built, writes the Times.