North East businesses call for energy reform

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We hosted a business energy policy meeting to discuss how energy policy can help industry in the North East and beyond be more competitive. Many business leaders and politicians from the region attended.

Government strategy discussed

Led by Iain Wright Chair of the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Select Committee and MP for Hartlepool, the group looked at how the Government’s industrial strategy can support businesses, especially the manufacturing sector. Iain Wright said:

“With the UK currently in the process of leaving the European Union we are seeing a great deal of political and economic uncertainty. It is now more important than ever to have a strong voice for local businesses and means by which they can connect with policy makers.”

North East firms’ policy concerns

The event, organised by Invicta Public Affairs, included insight from several North East businesses including Emergya Wind Technology, the North East Automotive Alliance, Komatsu UK, Banks Group and Nifco.

Planning policy was cited as a key existing area of concern. The Chair was told that current planning guidance puts UK manufacturers, including the North East’s large automotive sector, at an unnecessary competitive disadvantage.

For example, currently the Government doesn’t discern between large rural wind farms and the use of small single turbines at industrial sites, which would reduce energy costs and carbon emissions for businesses. Mark Peebles, of Emergya Wind Technology said:

“To encourage business growth Government policy must better reflect the needs of manufacturers in the UK. At present, ministerial guidance governing planning policy is preventing energy intensive business in this country from reducing their costs and becoming more competitive. A small policy clarification from Government would help business and industry to invest in technology that would underpin wealth and job creation for many years to come.”

Manufacturing powerhouse potential

The North East has a broad manufacturing base. The panel argued just minor changes to existing Government policy would help unlock this potential and spur the region on to becoming a manufacturing-led economic powerhouse.

This point was reiterated by Chi Onwurah, Newcastle Central MP and Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, who advised:

“The UK’s industrial strategy should include a vision for the kind of economy we want – and that must include successful manufacturing industries with sustainable competitive energy supply. The roundtable was extremely useful in developing the policy approaches which can enable that.”

Andrew Davison, Partner at Muckle LLP and head of the Energy team, said:

“We were delighted to host the meeting. We are working with a number of businesses regarding energy generation and efficiency. It is important that we work with opinion-formers and business leaders in the region to help get the changes we need in policy. A focus on the availability of energy at a competitive cost will help to shape the wider industrial strategy and its successful delivery.”

The discussion will feed into the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Committee’s wider examination of the Government’s industrial strategy.

For more information and advice, please contact Andrew Davison.