UK energy policy threatening Northern Powerhouse, say trade unions

Yorkshire and the Humber has the opportunity to become Europe's leading low-carbon industrial zone, but punitive Government policy is putting that potential at risk, according to a new report from the national trade union.

TUC’s new report, released today (2 October), found that Yorkshire and the Humber is the prime region for a low-carbon industrial zone because it is a UK centre for both energy generation and energy-intensive industries.

It has three coal power stations, five gas power stations and a combined heat and power station, producing around 17% of all the UK’s electricity. Around 25,000 people are employed in energy-intesnive industries like steel and cement.

However, to prosper in an increasingly low-carbon economy, this energy generation and consumption must become greener, TUC warned.


This process was underway, thanks to the development of the White Rose carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in North Yorkshire, as well as massive offshore wind power developments at Westermost Rough, and the UK’s first major onshore wind turbine manufacturing plant led by Siemens in Hull.

However, Government reversals on support for renewable energy and low carbon technology are putting the new low-carbon zone at risk, said TUC. For example, Drax pulled out of the White Rose CCS project last week, saying that it simply didn’t not have enough cash to invest after the Government removed tax breaks for renewable energy developers.

The report said it is “vital” that the White Rose project succeeds because it is needed to decarbonise the local energy-intensive industries. “Serious concerns also remain that other renewable power and low-carbon projects will be held back by a long list of government policy reversals on renewable energy and low-carbon technology,” the report adds.

Devolve power

The report suggests that trade unions, businesses, local government and other stakeholders should develop a joint regional forum to drive progress, taking some power out of Government hands.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Trade unions and businesses are working together on strategies to make Britain a global leader in clean energy and green jobs. But the government is undermining investment by reversing policies in support of renewable energy and low carbon technology.”

Read the full report here.

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie