Energy Bill ‘welcome boost’ to business

The Government's long awaited Energy Bill, published today, has been well received by businesses and industry, despite the absence of a 2030 decarbonisation target.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey made a statement to the House of Commons outlining the proposals in the bill this morning, describing the Energy Bill as “good for consumers, the economy and the planet.”

He also assured MPs that energy efficiency measures would be placed “front and centre” and vowed that new coal plants would only be built with carbon capture and storage (CCS).

In addition Davey said that although gas was a “vital” part of the UK’s energy mix, the Government would ensure “full protection of the environment”.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Director-General, John Cridland described the bill as a “welcome boost” to investor certainty.
“It will be crucial for investors to see the momentum kept up in Parliament so that the Bill can get onto the statute books as quickly as possible,” he said.

Cridland added: “The next vital debate is to decide how to improve energy efficiency and deliver real benefits to the economy. The current policy landscape is too complex, so we will look forward to seeing how today’s electricity demand reduction proposals can move us towards a simpler, more strategic approach.”

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) chief executive Gaynor Hartnell cautiously welcomed the publication but warned that “the devil would be in the detail.”

“We can’t afford to be complacent. It is vital that confidence in the policy framework is established quickly given the investment hiatus we face.

“There is still much work to do, to translate the legislation into clear and effective policy. We look forward to working closely with The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to ensure our members can have full confidence in the new framework as quickly as possible,” she said.

However, Labour sided with green campaigners who are still concerned that the Government has delayed a decision whether or not to set a decarbonisation target range for 2030 (link).

Speaking at the House of Commons, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Caroline Flint said:

“I make no bones about it – we support a clear decarbonisation target in this Bill.

“From what I read in this morning’s papers, so do many honourable members on the Government’s own benches, including the Chair of the Select Committee.”

Flint was referring to news that Conservative MP and chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, Tim Yeo had yesterday told the Independent that he could lead a push for an amendment to the Energy Bill to implement a 2030 decarbonisation target.

Greenpeace welcomed this development, with a response from political director Joss Garman: “There is a gaping hole in the energy bill in the shape of a 2030 decarbonisation target. Billions of pounds of investment rest on this target being made law. Without it, there is serious risk of an investment vacuum after 2020, and of jobs and money being lost to our economic rivals.

“The good news is, Conservative chair of the energy committee Tim Yeo looks set to fight for an amendment to the bill that would offer low-carbon investors certainty through to 2030. Greenpeace will be working closely with MPs across all parties to push for the amendment,” he added.

Flint also attacked the Government’s general handling of issues surrounding renewable energy.

She said: “From the disastrous handling of the cuts to the Feed-in Tariff for solar power, to the Energy Minister’s outbursts on wind power, and the Prime Minister’s broken promises on energy bills, this is a Department that has done more than its fair share to get the word omnishambles into the Oxford English Dictionary.”

Conor McGlone

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