Report: Hard Brexit poses threat to North England’s green economy

As the Government this week reiterates its pledge to maintain high standards for the environment post-Brexit, researchers have warned that a so-called hard Brexit could disproportionately threaten the green economy in the North of England.

A new study released today (16 August) insists that the EU shields against UK Government research funding bias towards London and the South East, with analysis claiming that the North accounts for 45% of the country’s share of EU renewable energy research funding.

Researchers at IPPR North are therefore wary of a Brexit outcome which includes ‘no deal’ on energy trade and the withdrawal of participation in continental energy research programmes.

IPPR director Ed Cox said: “As the Government has repeatedly said, leaving the EU does not mean leaving Europe, and if looks as though Brexiteers can’t deliver on their promises, we must continue to have the closest possible relationship with our nearest neighbours on energy.”

The North’s green energy sector generates half of all green jobs in the country, IPPR highlights. The think tank suggests that the UK’s Industrial Strategy will require a “radical and significant” overhaul of Government intervention to ensure the Northern green energy agenda thrives in a post-Brexit world.

Failure to do so could heighten the risks associated with hard Brexit, such as a failure to provide cheap, affordable energy or meet the country’s emission reduction obligations, the report contends.

Customs paper

The research comes as a fresh Government paper vows to align its post-Brexit trade deal with the Industrial Strategy, which is expected to provide significant investment for low-carbon technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage.

The paper lays out the Government’s plans for the UK’s trade relationship with the EU after it leaves, proposing either “a highly streamlined customs arrangement”, in which the UK leaves the customs union, or a new customs partnership with the EU, which would do away with a customs border altogether.

In either scenario, Ministers vow to “continue to maintain our high standards for consumers, employees, the environment and animal welfare”. This follows on from Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s pledge to deliver a “green” Brexit which develops “global gold standard policies” on environmental management. The Government’s Repeal Bill, released last month, faced criticism from MPs and green groups for leaving an “environment-shaped hole” in the UK’s Brexit strategy.

George Ogleby

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