The Queen set out the Government’s legislative programme for the year ahead, which includes a Bill to reform the energy and water industries.

Less than 10 minutes long, the Queen’s speech highlighted the ageing industries as particular issues to tackle and refered to the Government’s progress on the new Energy Bill, which is currently being developed, as well as its plan to introduce the new Water Bill.

Both Bill’s have received heavy criticism from industry, particularly the Energy Bill, which has been slammed for the delay in its development and for its lack of incentives for investors.

Speaking at the Energy Market Reform Summit in January, chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, Tim Yeo said the Bill was flawed because it did not encourage investment through measures that emphasize the financial savings that can be made through energy efficiency.

Yeo said more needed to be done to encourage businesses, as well as homeowners to invest in energy efficient measures.

Commenting on the demand reduction measures in the Energy Bill announced in the Queens Speech, Senior Climate & Environment Adviser Fergus McReynolds, at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “Attempts to overcome barriers to energy efficiency are welcome but should not have been taken forward through amendments to the Energy Bill.

“Market wide measures for energy efficiency would be extremely complex to both design and a one size fits all approach will not overcome the specific barriers manufacturers face. Government must now ensure that the programme delivers real added value for the UK economy and that the scheme developed has robust measurement and verification.”

Equally, the water bill has received a barrage of criticism. Last year, the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum publication stated that the Bill lacks ambition and the plans are unlikely to provide the necessary changes within an acceptable timescale.

Ending her speech, the Queen announced that one of the key focus areas for the Government during the upcoming G8, where the UK will hold presidency, will be climate change.

“In assuming the presidency of the G8, my Government will promote economic growth, support free trade, tackle tax evasion, encourage greater transparency and accountability while continuing to make progress in tackling climate change” the Queen said.

However, the Queen made it clear that the Government’s “first priority” would be the struggling British economy and that reducing the deficit took precedence.

Leigh Stringer

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