In a speech today to business leaders in central London, CBI deputy director-general Dr Neil Bentley, implored the government to take swift action to promote investor confidence.

Speaking alongside the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey, Bentley said: “Giving energy policy speeches can sometimes feel like being stuck in a time warp. While we support the Government’s direction of travel, the speed of progress is pretty frustrating.

“The Energy Bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, to boost our economy as well as head off our energy challenges. To grab that opportunity before it is too late, we need less politics, more policy.”

Ed Davey promised that the Coalition would provide certainty for investors in its forthcoming Energy Bill. He also revealed plans to introduce additional powers to the Energy Bill to help promote competition and liquidity.

He said: “The coalition is absolutely committed to getting these reforms right, through legislation and through the signals we send. We have listened to investors and today have set out further measures to provide the certainty they need to make decisions that will benefit us all.”

Davey also claimed energy projects would benefit from reforms contained within the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, introduced today, which will amend the Electricity and Gas Act of 1986.

Despite this, Bentley urged the Government to pick up the pace in finalising policy.

“We appreciate the Government’s efforts to consult thoroughly and get those changes right. But we mustn’t fall victim to paralysis by analysis – the longer we go on without finalised policy, the longer investment stalls or goes abroad,” he said.

Politics was standing in the way of investment he said:

“We are seeing UK energy policy get increasingly political. Are you for green or for growth? Are you for renewables or for gas? Fruitless debates over these false choices can seem like they’re just noises off, but they really matter.

“With every new story that adds to the sense of uncertainty, I hear of more phone calls from overseas head offices to UK executives asking whether it is worth putting further work into scoping out possible investments in the UK,” he added.

Bentley also claimed there was a place for UK shale gas in the future but that a balanced and diverse energy mix was the most cost effective pathway to decarbonisation.

“The Government is right to encourage safe shale gas extraction as it makes sense to maximise the amount of energy we can produce at home at a reasonable cost. But gas alone isn’t the answer.

Conor McGlone

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