Business leaders in the north east have sent a clear message to central government that more needs to be done to provide incentives to use renewable energy.
With the Energy Review and subsequent White Paper set to have a far reaching impact on companies throughout the north-east, Shepherd and Wedderburn's Energy team launched an on-line poll to find out what bosses really think of central government's plans.
Almost 150 people from a wide range of sectors took part including: oil and gas; engineering and construction; leisure and hospitality; and transport and logistics with interesting results.
The success of the energy White Paper will depend on securing the support of the wider business sector and while the survey suggests that many industry leaders are well informed about the review, there are many issues that need to be addressed before their buy-in can be assured.
The Energy Review was launched by the UK government to look at two key issues:
· How to tackle climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and
· How to deliver secure, clean energy at affordable prices as we move to increasing dependence on imported energy.
The results from the survey showed that the number one priority for most organisations (61%) is to secure greater incentives to introduce renewable energy in to the work place.
It also found that the majority of people feel that the White Paper will address their main concerns on energy policy and believe that central government has the greatest role to play in delivering the objectives of the Energy Review followed by the Scottish Executive, European Commission, local government and energy regulator OFGEM.
But while they are confident the main energy issues will be addressed, company bosses have voiced concerns about the government's focus on the hot topics of the day instead of providing a coherent set of policies for the energy sector and are uncertain that the objectives of the white paper can be delivered within the proposed timescale.
Other key areas to be improved included the need to reform the planning system and tackle issues such as emissions controls and trading, carbon neutrality and the security of gas supplies with a commitment to nuclear power.
Among the most significant energy related challenges facing the respondents during the next year, access to the national grid; access to the transmission network for renewable projects in Scotland and access to the NDA nuclear industry to benefit from the oil and gas lessons learnt were utmost in respondents' minds.
Energy is set to remain on the top of the political agenda for the foreseeable future and there is still much more to be done to ensure the longevity and sustainability of the UK's energy sector.
Leon Moller is a lawyer specialising in energy and oil and gas with UK law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn.
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