UK Car Repair Questions? Ask a Mechanic for Answers ASAP
On any car if you get a check engine light or other fault light this typically means one or more of the sensors has failed or has a faulty connection.
The fault can be something quite simple and nothing that’s going to stop the car to something quite major that will reduce engine power and possibly stop the engine
The ECU senses this and may put the car into 'limp home' mode which typically limits the revs and the amount of power available. Usually the car is safe to drive for a short distance as the mode is intended is intended to get you home without incurring any engine damage
The quickest route to repair is to have the car plugged into a diagnostic machine which will read off the fault code stored in the ECU (providing the light is still on at this point) and indicate which sensor has failed or whether the fault is more serious.
You can do a very rough and ready check yourself by unplugging sensors one at a time and seeing if any of them change the driving condition which would indicate the most recently unplugged sensor is the faulty one. This method is not foolproof though and reading a fault code off is the better method.
however from your description I'd check the connections to the EGR valve, if either the vacuum pipe of electrical connection are damaged / corroded then the EGR can be on all time which certainly will hurt performance. Its also possible that its a fault with the EGR valve so its worth removing the valve and cleaning it out with brake cleaner, if it looks particularly clogged then replace it.